Agenda item

Application DM/2019/00800 - Demolition of existing bungalow and outbuildings and replacement with 2no. detached two storey dwelling houses with altered driveway access from highway. Homestead, Wainfield Lane, Gwehelog, Usk


We considered the report of the application and late correspondence, which was presented for refusal for one reason, as follows:


·         The construction of two dwellings at this site does not constitute infill development as it is not a small gap between existing dwellings and therefore the development would be contrary to Policy H3 of the Monmouthshire Local Development Plan.


The application had been approved by Planning Committee on 2nd February 2021. The consent was for the demolition of an existing bungalow with outbuildings and the erection of the two detached dwellings.  The decision was subsequently subject to a Judicial Review by a local resident, the single ground of challenge to the grant of the permission being that part of the officer’s report was substantially misleading in relation to foul drainage, in that there is guidance within approved document H2 that suggests that drainage fields should be at least 15 metres from a building. If that had been applied in this case, the effect would be that each of the proposed drainage fields would be required to be five metres further away from Ty Cwtch and from the proposed buildings.


The judge had concluded the following:


“Reading the officer’s report as a whole, which incorporated a previous report, the concerns in relation to foul drainage from objectors and the local community council are noted and these include references to the history of drainage issues in the area and to the site being predominantly on clay. In dealing with amenity, the report deals only with visual amenity and privacy. In my judgment, by not referring to the Circular or the Approved Document H2, the members, even as informed readers, are likely to have been left with the impression that as the building control officers were satisfied that the drainage proposals satisfied the requirements of the 2010 Regulations, that was the end of the matter in respect of such proposals. In the planning context, in my judgment, it was not. To leave it there without fully dealing with the adequacy of the drainage proposals in that context was in my judgment significantly misleading”.


On this basis, the decision was quashed and therefore the application is re- presented to the Planning Committee for consideration.  The Local Planning Authority has conducted a complete re-appraisal of the development proposal in light of this judgement and conducted further consultation in the form of the erection of a site notice at the site and consultation with the local community council, neighbouring parties and statutory consultees.


The local Member for Llanbadoc, attending the meeting by invitation of the Chair, outlined the following points:


·         The local Member had spoken against this application at previous Planning Committee meetings and is now pleased that officers are now recommending refusal of the application.


·         Infill on the site has already occurred with the development of Ty Cwtch, with no further room within the site for an additional infill dwelling.


·         The current proposal does not comply with Planning Policy H3.


·         Ty Cwtch’s ridge is higher than originally proposed. The proposed development was proposing an even higher ridge than Ty Cwtch.


·         The current development is already prominent in the landscape and the proposed two dwellings would be higher than Ty Cwtch and prominent in the landscape.


·         There are no mitigating factors that support the proposal for two large houses on the site.


·         The local Member asked that the Planning Committee considers refusal of the application in line with the planning officer’s recommendation.


Ms. L. Young, objecting to the application, had prepared an audio recording which was presented to Planning Committee and the following points were outlined:


·         The objector welcomes the officer recommendation for refusal as the proposal does not comply with the local plan infill policy.


·         Homestead has already had an infill plot which is now called Ty Cwtch.


·         Local residents have argued that adding more large houses onto the site cannot comply with the infill policy as it is not filling a small gap between existing dwellings.


·         Should the Planning Committee support the officer recommendation for refusal, the applicant will still be able to go to appeal so that an independent inspector could have the final say in respect of this matter.


·         Should the proposal go to an appeal, local residents would support Monmouthshire County Council in fighting against the scheme but would also oppose the two dwellings for reasons other than just the infill policy.


·         The objector expressed disappointment that the officer’s report did not acknowledge and include further reasons for refusal such as landscape harm with both proposed dwellings being taller than Ty Cwtch and being on the crest of a hill.


·         Officers have apologised for the height of Ty Cwtch which had been approved under delegated powers. Assurances had been made to local residents that this issue would not happen again.


·         Disappointment was also expressed that the officer report did not recognise the drainage problems that would result if the properties were built.


·         The site is too small to accommodate sufficient parking provision with no adequate turning space.


·         There is too little land available to deal with foul drainage which will not meet building regulations, which was the reason for the judicial review. Lack of foul drainage also means there is no room to provide landscaping.


·         For all of the reasons mentioned, the objector strongly supports the officer’s recommendation for refusal of the application.


Mr. G. Buckle, the applicant’s agent, had submitted a written statement in respect of the application which was read to the Planning Committee by the Development Services Manager, as follows:


‘The Officers’ Report is a shameful capitulation, and it is obvious the Council fear legal action from disgruntled neighbours, rather than an appeal by the applicants. Councillors should question why, on two previous occasions, the Application has been recommended for approval and voted in favour with unanimous decisions on both occasions. H3 Policy is complied with, as was Approved Appeal Ref: APP/E6840/A/12/2174137 on the site opposite Homestead, Luxfield Ref: DC/2011/00977. The Council have also debated and approved a similar site at The Narth Ref: DM/2019/00280. Demolition of one property and replacement with two dwellings. The previous report prepared by officers makes it quite clear that: In Minor Villages Planning Permission will be granted for minor infill of no more than one or two dwellings, from the filling in of a small gap between existing dwellings or residential development. Following the Judicial Review, the Judge found no issue with the Proposal: Para: 32 of the judgement gives officers the opportunity to fill in the gaps identified by the judge and approve the proposal. Councillors are duty bound to question officers why the report is a complete turnaround from a cast iron approval to refusal. The Council have a responsibility to treat this application with due care and diligence competence, honest and integrity. My clients have complied fully with all requests for additional information from Council officers and have complied fully with Council Policy. When my clients attended the community council meeting, it was agreed that there were no further objections to the proposal. The objecting neighbour just wanted the drainage to work, this has been scrutinised by Building Control and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) on two separate occasions and approved the application has received full approval from Council Members previously. My clients are a young family with two children, who are desperately trying to make a life for themselves in Gwehelog; in a similar way to other families in the immediate area, who have constructed and live in new in-fill properties. The application, as presented by officers, clearly identifies the judge’s concerns, and the sole reason for the permission being quashed in relation to drainage has been dealt with. This application has been vetted and scrutinised by neighbours and the community council on more than four occasions, and it beggars belief that the community council still regurgitate objections from three years ago, which have little or no relevance. My clients have been in direct contact with Craig O’Connor and Andrew Jones, who informed them that it was a bullet proof application. I would request that Council Members overturn the recommendation of officers and again approve this application. It is your democratic duty to question the complete turnaround by your officers. A refusal is unacceptable when you consider the scheme has been fully supported by officers and Members during the past four years, with no concerns raised regarding the H3 Policy. Following the Judicial Review decision, we met with Planning officers and Monmouthshire Legal Team. It was agreed that the application for two houses was acceptable and it was a robust application. We had to deal with the new phosphate drainage issues, which had arisen in the intervening period, which we did, and this was approved by NRW. At no point was the H3 Policy mentioned during the Judicial Review process. The threat by neighbours for another Judicial Review is always going to be the case, but by refusing and passing the responsibility on to the Welsh Assembly, by way of an appeal, is a complete dereliction of duty, with a decision potentially being made for financial reasons alone. My clients deserve equality and respect, so please determine this application on its merits as you have done so previously and approve the application.


Having considered the report of the application and the views expressed, the following points were identified:


·         Members expressed sympathy for the applicant.  However, it would be difficult to go against the ruling of a judicial review and the views that had been expressed regarding infill of the site.


·         The judicial review related solely to the issue regarding foul drainage on the site.


·         Planning officers had undertaken a full re-appraisal of the scheme with internal consultees.


·         The scheme conflicts with Planning Policy H3.


·         In addition to not complying with Policy H3, a Member considered that the application also did not comply with Planning Policy DES1. However, the Head of Planning stated that officers had concluded that there is scope only for one reason for refusal for this application, namely Planning Policy H3.


It was proposed by County Councillor P. Jordan and seconded by County Councillor G. Howard that application DM/2019/00800 be refused for one reasonas follows:


The construction of two dwellings at this site does not constitute infill development as it is not a small gap between existing dwellings and therefore the development would be contrary to Policy H3 of the Monmouthshire Local Development Plan.

Upon being put to the vote the following votes were recorded:


For refusal                -           8

Against refusal         -           2

Abstentions               -           1


The proposition was carried.


We resolved that application DM/2019/00800 be refused for one reason as follows:


The construction of two dwellings at this site does not constitute infill development as it is not a small gap between existing dwellings and therefore the development would be contrary to Policy H3 of the Monmouthshire Local Development Plan.



Supporting documents: