We considered the report of the application and late correspondence which was presented with a recommendation for refusal for the reason outlined in the report.
The local Member for Town ward attended the meeting by invitation of the Chair and outlined the following points:
· The town has several empty buildings that require renovation.
· Hebron Hall has been empty for at least a decade and is attracting antisocial behaviour. The hall is currently in a state of disrepair.
· This scheme makes use of a vacant plot in a positive way on the high street.
· The development has been planned sensitively and is supported by or has received no objections from surrounding neighbours.
· The application provides housing, two of which are affordable housing units.
· A walkway will be provided bringing footfall to the high street.
· The local Member disagrees with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) regarding its view of this application. It was considered that TAN 15 has been met and the flood risk is managed to acceptable level.
· A 1 in 100-year flood risk has been mitigated by having the living accommodation located on the first floor.
· This development is considered to be safer than most other nearby buildings and houses that are located in the C1 zone that have ground floor accommodation.
· The local Member asked the Planning Committee to consider supporting the application. If it is refused, then it would be unlikely than any development would be able to be undertaken at this location.
· Monmouth Town Council had been minded to support the application.
The applicant, Mr. M. Hall attended the meeting by invitation of the Chair and outlined the following points:
· It is a strategically important site which spans from Monnow Street to Waitrose car park and beyond that to Chippenham Fields.
· A scheme was designed to respond to the site’s many constraints and a simple terrace of modern mews cottages was considered to be a convincing use of the site.
· A cobbled thoroughfare would provide access for the homes while establishing a new public link from the high street.
· The buildings use quality brick, a rhythmic roofline, and colourful doors to create a durable addition to the townscape.
· Historically, a mews would provide accommodation for horses and carriages on the ground floor with living accommodation above. A 21st Century equivalent is being proposed.
· Local amenities are a short walk away enabling a single car per household to be a sustainable proposition.
· The two bedroomed homes incorporate covered outdoor terraces connecting to open plan living spaces on the first floor with bedrooms placed above on the top storey.
· Complex but flexible layouts have been created providing very liveable homes. Two of the seven homes will be affordable housing.
· A number of individual concerns have been raised by specialist consultees. Overall, the Planning department has been satisfied that the scheme provides a well thought through and socially responsible solution within Monmouth Conservation area. Over the course of several meetings, it had been identified that Hebron Mews would be recommended for approval were it not for an objection by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) on flooding risk grounds.
· Monmouth Flood defences mean that the site is protected against a 1 in 100 year event. However, modelling a 25% overage to predict for climate change indicates the town’s current flood defences would overtop and the site would flood. Over 500 acres of Monmouth would be under water at that point.
· In the event of overtopping, on site flood water has been modelled peaking between 0.9 metres and 2.1 metres in depth. That is well below the 2.45 metre level of the proposed living accommodation. Considered in isolation, garaging and storage have low vulnerability to flooding making them an acceptable form of development for the site’s ground level.
· Hebron Mews will be far more resilient than neighbouring homes and businesses.
· NRW makes no distinction between the site’s use at ground level and upper floors. The entire development has been categorised as highly vulnerable and objects on that basis. Taking this approach stymies any equivalent development within central Monmouth.
· Refusal of this scheme would prevent any infill development across 500 acres of the town. Market towns need to evolve with places to live as well as to shop.
· The applicant’s agent requested that the Committee considers approval of the application with a view to rejuvenating the site.
Having considered the report of the application and the views expressed, the following points were noted:
· On balance, it is unlikely that the site will flood to over two metres in height. If this did occur half of Monmouth would be under water.
· The applicant has mitigated flood risk by designing the living area to be above 2.4 metres and be located on the first floor.
· There is a current housing shortage in Monmouthshire. This scheme will provide 7 new houses in Monmouth with two of the properties being affordable housing.
· Development on this site will enhance the area.
· The proposed new public route would be welcomed by local people adding another access point between Monnow Street and the car park.
· The site is close to several car parks so parking provision would not be an issue.
· This is a much-needed scheme within Monmouth.
The Head of Planning responded, as follows:
· TAN 15 does refer to locating people within the flood risk zone. It is recognised that additional pressures could be placed on emergency services in the event of a flood. It was considered that the tolerance levels of TAN 15 in this case would be exceeded.
· Should the Committee consider that the planning benefits outweigh the risk to residents and supported approval of the application against officers’ recommendation then officers would notify Natural Resources Wales (NRW) accordingly. A set of conditions would then be prepared by officers which would be presented to the Planning Delegation Panel. It was noted that NRW could impose additional conditions and could also ask Welsh Government to call in the application.
The Development Management Area Team Manager informed the Committee:
· The access road within the site has been designed to be a shared cobbled surface to encourage people to walk from Monnow Street to the car park.
· The garages will have roller shut doors.
· The air source heat pumps are located at a low level and are screened providing some noise attenuation. If located at a higher level, they would be more visually intrusive and potentially noisier to the occupants or other neighbours.
· If the application was approved conditions would need to be considered by the Delegation Panel which would include matters relating to ecology, lighting and a construction traffic management plan. Maintaining the garages in perpetuity could also be considered.
· There would be a full documented photographic record of the existing building before any development takes place.
· A method statement for demolition could also be included with consideration of the reuse of fabric within the building.
· A flood rescue plan has been submitted as part of the application. The applicant has committed to providing a flood defence system which could be included as a condition.
· Currently, the phosphate levels are considered to be a betterment. However, a Grampian condition could be applied.
It was proposed by County Councillor J. McKenna and seconded by County Councillor A. Webb to approve application DM/2022/00473 subject to a Section 106 agreement and to agree conditions to be applied via the Delegation Panel. Natural Resources Wales to be contacted to notify them of the resolution to approve the application.
Upon being put to the vote, the following votes were recorded:
For approval - 13
Against approval - 0
Abstentions - 1
The proposition was carried.
We resolved to approve application DM/2022/00473 subject to a Section 106 agreement and to agree conditions to be applied via the Delegation Panel. Natural Resources Wales to be contacted to notify them of the resolution to approve the application.