Agenda and minutes

Special Meeting, Place Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 23rd October, 2023 4.00 pm

Venue: The Council Chamber, County Hall, The Rhadyr, Usk, NP15 1GA with remote attendance


No. Item


Declarations of Interest


Councillor Dymock declared an interest, as two sites are in her ward.


Public Open Forum


The following concerns were raised by the public during the forum in relation to the sites that Cabinet wish to consult on:


·         There are flaws in the process as to why some sites have been rejected which reflects inconsistent and unsound decision-making.  There was a lack of notification about the sites being considered and the public were unaware of the Cabinet’s consideration of the sites.


·         The site proposed at Langley Close is a conservation area and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) with ancient hedgerow and established wildlife. There are road safety concerns and access concerns, air pollution and noise pollution concerns.


·         There proposals lack balance, because if the sites were approved at Bradbury Farm and Oak Grove Farm, there would be three sites within a very short distance. There are adverse visual impacts on landscape, the land being of high agricultural value. The Gwent Levels is an SSSI, so placing a site in full view was felt to contradict planning policy H6 that applies to the visual impact.


·         There are considerable road safety concerns, as there are no footpaths, the road is a 60mph road, yet the report cites ‘good walking links’. There are no bus links and poor connection to public services, such as schools and shops. People commented that the siting proposals are dangerous and would offer poor networks.


Call-in of the decision by the special meeting of Cabinet on 4th October 2023 in relation to meeting Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Pitch Needs - Land Identification pdf icon PDF 205 KB

Additional documents:


The Scrutiny Manager explained the Call-in process, as outlined in the Council’s Constitution. Councillor Taylor spoke as the Call-in Lead, detailing the reasons for calling in the decision, as stated in the Call-in request.  Councillors Howarth and Jones also outlined their reasons for the call-in.


Key points raised by Call-in Members:


·         Concerns about the robustness and objectivity of the process.

·         Concerns about the consistency of the application of the RAG ratings and the rationale for accepting or rejecting certain sites as part of the process, Members citing there are inaccuracies and inconsistencies on aspects such as proximity to major roads.

·         Concerns about the lack of assessments on sites prior to inclusion in the Replacement Local Development Plan and prior to public consultation – the argument being that the process feels flawed.

·         Concerns relating to the cost implications and the timeliness of conducting assessments on sites that are felt to be unsuitable on the basis of air, noise and possible land contamination, particularly given the difficult financial climate.


Cabinet Member Paul Griffiths responded to the points of the call-in and answered the members’ questions with Mark Hand, Nicholas Keyse, Cath Fallon and Craig O’ Connor.


Key points raised by Committee Members:


·         The Cabinet Member was asked to confirm that he and officers had visited all sites ~ The Cabinet Member responded, confirming he had visited all sites. 


·         Concerns stated by the public about the process taken to shortlist these sites were echoed by Members ~ they heard that Undy was recommended to be in the final shortlist, but had since been withdrawn due to the land being contaminated. They queried how Members could be assured that the process is robust and that the proposals are viable.  Members have concerns about the suitability of the sites remaining: specifically road safety and the lack of active travel routes, poor connection to public transport and a lack of access to vital public services.


·         There were discrepancies suggested in Appendix 1 of the report, in respect of Oak Grove Farm (Oakwell Farm being suggested to be the correct name), the report citing ‘easy access’ to the village, which suggests it falls within the active travel focus. A Member strongly disputed this, explaining that walking along the verge of the B4245 would be very dangerous with no safe means of access to schools and shops. It was suggested that the report was misleading, given that the proximity to active travel routes is 1.6 miles, which is dangerous for communities to walk without a footpath.  Another example was given of Bradbury Way, where a Member advised that a nearby house was refused planning for a driveway onto Crick Road because officers believed it was too dangerous, however, the Council is proposing to pitches which will need to access/egress from this road, with no footpaths for people to access local amenities safely.


·         Concerns was echoed about the suitability of the Langley Close proposal, which was raised by the public, who spoke about road safety concerns with 50mph  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Next Meeting


Thursday 9th November 2023 at 10.00am.