Agenda item

Outline Application for the Erection of up to 40 Residential Dwellings with Associated Access and all Other Matters Reserved at Rhos Road, Penyffordd (053656)


            That planning permission be refused for the amended reasons detailed on the late observations sheet. 


The Committee considered the report of the Chief Officer (Planning and Environment) in respect of this application which had been the subject of a site visit on 18 January 2016.  The usual consultations had been undertaken and the responses received detailed in the report.  Additional comments received since the preparation of the report were circulated at the meeting.    Councillor Ray Hughes, having earlier declared an interest in the application, left the meeting prior to its discussion. 


                        The officer detailed the background to the report and explained that the site was 1.4 hectares in size and was outside the settlement boundary for Penyffordd and Penymynydd.  Details of access had been provided but all other matters were reserved.  The officer referred to paragraph 7.05 where the comments of the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) Inspector were reported and she explained that the site had been considered by the Inspector as part of the UDP Inquiry as an ‘omission site’.  However, the Inspector had not allocated this site due to the visual impact and also as no further land was needed at that time to meet the growth of the settlement in terms of the UDP strategy.  Paragraph 7.09 provided details of an appeal for a previous application on the adjacent Rhos y Brwyner Farm which included the provision of a new access off Rhos Road.  The appeal was dismissed as the Inspector felt that the creation of a new access route could set a precedent for further development. 


                        There had been a number of objections to the application and these were detailed in the report.  The officer explained that the settlement had an indicative growth band of 8 to 15% for a Category B settlement but it was reported that as at April 2015 the settlement had a growth rate of 27.1% over the plan period.  This figure took account of the commitments for developments in the area but the growth rate for completions was 21%.  Consideration had been given to Policy GEN3 in the determination of this application and also to Technical Advice Note 1, which required each local planning authority to maintain a five year supply of housing land.  As the Council was currently unable to demonstrate a five year land supply, consideration of TAN1 should be given considerable weight in the determination of the application.  Due to the current land supply situation and the timeframe for the UDP housing strategy, the Council had produced a developer guidance note in order to provide some clarity which had been endorsed in June 2015. 


The officer explained that an agricultural land classification survey had confirmed that the site was subgrade 3b and not ‘best and most versatile’ agricultural land.  A Transport Statement had accompanied the application and Highways had raised no objection to the proposed development subject to standard highways conditions covering the details of the access and detailed design of estate roads.  A Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) had also accompanied the application and this had been assessed by the Council’s consultant.  Concern had been expressed about the removal of approximately 35m of hedgerow but it was felt that this could be mitigated by strategic landscaping.  The officer referred to the issue of foul drainage and advised that there was no capacity in the existing network to accommodate the foul drainage.  The applicants had commissioned Welsh Water to under a Hydraulic Modelling exercise to determine the nature of the improvement works required.  The site was being advanced on the basis of specific circumstances in respect of housing land supply and it needed to demonstrate that the site was capable of being implemented to address this.  The officer explained that as a timescale for the deliverability was not currently known due to the extent and costing of any works required, it could not be considered as sustainable as there was no capacity in the existing sewerage network to cater for the site.  Therefore the application was recommended for refusal as it did not comply with TAN1 and was contrary to policies STR1, GEN3, HSG4 and EWP16 and GEN1 as reported in the late observations. 


            Councillor Chris Bithell proposed the recommendation for refusal which was duly seconded.  He felt that this application was an attempt to pre-empt the Local Development Plan procedure before the Planning Authority had had the opportunity to look at any candidate sites in the area and determine which was the best site.  He referred to the issue of the inability of the sewerage network to cope and there were currently no solutions in place to deal with the problem and enhance the network in the area.  Councillor David Roney spoke of the comprehensive report and concurred with the reason for refusal reported in paragraph 2.01.    


The local Member, Councillor Cindy Hinds, spoke against the application.  She suggested that the growth rate for the settlement was 34% and not 27% as reported.  Residents had raised significant concern about the proposals and Councillor Hinds also felt that it was a premature application due to the problems with the drainage network and referred to a recent issue in the village where raw sewage could be seen in a flooded area.  She indicated that Castell Alun High School did not have any surplus places and the village did not have a doctor’s surgery and the new health clinic in Buckley was difficult for residents to access by public transport.  Councillor Hinds felt that the infrastructure could not sustain any additional development and she added that previous applications had been refused due to the need to remove some of the hedgerow. 


Councillor Derek Butler suggested that developers were submitting applications on any sites because of the Council’s non-compliance with Welsh Government legislation to have a five year housing land supply.  He felt that account had not been taken of front end delivery of permissions or of the many sites that had been granted permission but had not been progressed.  He added that in his ward, the growth rate had reached 21% because of permissions that had been granted by Inspectors in the past even though the growth threshold for the settlement was 8 to 15%. 


Councillor Gareth Roberts suggested that developers should be required to complete developments within two years of permissions being granted and said that he did not feel that this application could be achieved within this timescale and would therefore not impact on the lack of housing supply.  He said that it was not the responsibility of Welsh Water to make provision for the works required on this unallocated site and queried how long the necessary works would take to complete.  He added that the applicants were not house builders and referred to the issue of landbanking.  Councillor Paul Shotton felt that the concerns of Welsh Water on capacity issues in the area should be considered and the application refused. 


The Interim Team Leader Policy spoke of the concerns raised about the residual method of calculating land supply used by Welsh Government which resulted in the Council not having a five year housing land supply.  Considerable weight was given to this in the determination of decisions by appeal Inspectors and it was a material planning consideration but there was a need to consider whether the site was sustainable or not given that it had been submitted as an application that could assist in meeting the housing land supply.  The officer’s report demonstrated that in most aspects, it was sustainable but there were issues about the capacity of foul drainage on the network which was not sustainable.  Until the outcome of the assessment of the cost of works needed to be undertaken and how quickly this could be achieved, it was not possible to bring this site forward for development.  He referred to comments about the prematurity of the application but reminded Members that the application had to be considered now and added that advice in Planning Policy Wales indicated that prematurity could not be sustained as a reason for refusal in the early stages of the Local Development Plan.                               




            That planning permission be refused for the amended reasons detailed on the late observations sheet. 


After the vote had been taken, Councillor Hughes returned to the meeting and the Chairman advised him of the decision.

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