The trust in charge of a popular tea room in the heart of a Powys beauty spot has confirmed it will not be reversing its decision to close, following public outcry.

Penbont House, which is also a B&B, announced on March 1 that it is shutting in May as the business is deemed “no longer viable” in the current economic climate.

It comes despite the tea rooms being hugely popular with locals in nearby Rhayader and visitors to the Elan Valley, not to mention the decision seems to have been made at an odd time of year – with the busy summer tourism season just around the corner.

The decision sparked uproar locally and on social media – nearly 300 people reacted to the tea rooms’ initial post, which attracted 184 comments.

But the Elan Valley Trust, which is in charge of Penbont House, said the decision won’t be reversed and is in the “best interests of the charity”, with the trust struggling to cover running costs at the “off grid” location.


Penbont House will continue to open fully until May 13, while overnight guests will continue to be welcomed until May 20.

“This is very poor news and very untimely,” said Rhayader mayor Rhys Thomas.

“To close Penbont House is a decision that doesn’t need to be made so quickly.

“I am sure some of the reserves from the £14 million unrestricted funds or from the £560,000 of direct aid and rural development programmes in 2022, as well as the £930,000 in 2021, can allow time for the trust to re-evaluate the model moving forward and keep Penbont open over the summer.

“Speaking to people close to the property, now is time for investment into infrastructure to the residents and businesses, allowing more viable solutions.”

He called on the trust to “Please do the right thing and delay the closure until a viable way forward is found”.

His tone was echoed by countless others, who were left saddened and shocked by the news.

Commenters online called for the trust to "reconsider your decision", urging them to put measures in place to turn the situation around.

Elsewhere the move was described as a “massive blow to Rhayader and the Elan Valley".

One online commenter criticised the decision to close in the lead-up to the summer as “diabolical”.

“This is a massive blow to locals as well as tourists,” she said.

“Having somewhere as lovely as Penbont has been an asset to the valley."

County Times:  Penbont House announced on March 1 that it is shutting in May as the business is deemed “no longer viable” in the current economic climate. Penbont House announced on March 1 that it is shutting in May as the business is deemed “no longer viable” in the current economic climate.

A spokesperson for the Elan Valley Trust said: “The decision to close Penbont House has been a difficult one.

“As a charitable organisation we carefully think through our decisions and have spent significant time evaluating this part of our organisation, concluding that it is in the best interests of the charity to close.

“The timing takes account of a number of factors but we wanted to provide the time to honour bookings and vouchers as much as possible.

“Ultimately, the trust have made the decision to close because in spite of much effort we have concluded that it is not financially viable.

“Running any sizeable business completely off grid has inherent challenges and costs that many other businesses do not face. That, coupled with the cumulative impact of challenges including Covid, rising prices and the remote location have had significant negative financial impacts on the business since opening in 2019.

“Unfortunately, despite testing different approaches, and the best efforts of our amazing staff team, we have been unable to sufficiently cover our running costs.

“The Elan Valley Trust (is) a charity with specific charitable aims and we seek to use our funds carefully to further these aims and to ensure a lifespan commensurate with our lease of 999 years.

“As such, we, like many charities, have to prioritise the things that we focus our resources upon.”

There is hope the tea room and B&B will be taken on and repurposed so that visitors to the Elan Valley can still benefit from it, with details to be unveiled in the future.