Agenda item

Application DM/2018/01909 - Open sided, roofed pavilion with new hard surfacing. Abergavenny Museum & Castle, Castle Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5EE


We considered the report of the application and late correspondence, which was recommended for approval subject to the nine conditions, as outlined in the report.


Mr. Horowskyj, representing objectors, attended the meeting by invitation of the Chair and outlined the following points:


·         The objectors are not opposed to the pavilion being built in the Castle grounds but strongly object to the proposed location.


·         The main objections are the noise from planned events, the pavilion will be located too close to residential properties and be too large for its chosen location, the lack of toilets for the new building, and the pavilion will encourage anti-social behaviour.


·         Noise is the biggest concern to objectors. Although consultations had taken place with the applicants dating back to 2017, objectors concerns regarding noise had been ignored.


·         A noise impact assessment had been commissioned by the Museums Service but only for natural speech. This report underestimated the anticipated noise levels and did not include any readings for music, weddings and private party events.


·         The Environmental Health Department had accepted up to 17 such events per year which equates to loud music every weekend throughout the summer season.  A request for a more thorough noise assessment was rejected. The objectors therefore commissioned their own report.  Based on codes of practice, the predicted noise levels for music, wedding and party events will result in severe intrusion into local residents’ properties. Residents will either have to close their windows or accept the excessive noise.


·         The proposals do not satisfy the planning policies to protect the quiet enjoyment of residents’ homes.


·         Cadw maintains that the proposed pavilion will have an adverse impact on the park and garden.


·         There is only one toilet on the site to accommodate an expected 120 visitors to the pavilion. Toilet provision has not been properly addressed by the applicant.


·         It is easy to gain access to the castle grounds at night with the pavilion likely to become a haven for anti-social behaviour. The use of shutters to close the sides will not be a sufficient deterrent to prevent vandalism.


·         It was considered that the applicant should have obtained further information to ensure that the proposal would not cause an unreasonable impact on adjacent properties.


·         Local Development Plan policies EP1, S17 and HE1 have not been satisfied and it was considered that Planning Committee should consider refusing the application.


·         There are other sites within the Castle grounds that could be considered which are further away from neighbouring residential properties.


The applicant, Rachael Rogers, attended the meeting by invitation of the Chair and outlined the following points:


·         The events pavilion will enhance cultural provision for residents and visitors to Monmouthshire.


·         An events feasibility study was undertaken in 2017 which had concluded that a covered structure would be a unique community asset providing opportunities to bring arts and cultural life in partnership with community groups and local businesses and will contribute to the sustainability of the site.


·         Deciding the best location for the structure demanded a careful balancing of issues, the historic nature of the site, the proximity of the neighbours and ability for all users to practically access the structure.


·         The construction type considered would create a low impact on the site whilst potentially lasting for many years. The structure could also be dismantled leaving little trace of it having been there.


·         New or radical use of the structure is not being proposed.  Abergavenny Castle has been publicly accessible since the 19th Century.  21st century events include historical re-enactments, outdoor theatre and stargazing.


·         The applicant understands the neighbours’ concerns and it is not the applicant’s intention to cause distress. It is important to be clear what the structure is not for.  It is not a venue for large concerts. 


·         Its principal use will be for spoken events during the day, such as visiting schools or for community group hire. An addition for spoken evening events for audience cover, for outdoor theatre events in inclement weather, for learning and cultural events and food and drink events limited to four events annually. For this reason, the noise impact assessment considered speech only events.


·         It is recognised that objectors have undertaken their own music assessment.  However, the Authority’s proposed music events are mainly smaller in scale.  The approach has been in line with the Planning Department’s recommendations to limit the frequency and timing of events. Therefore, small and medium music events up to four times a year, weddings also up to four times a year, but would not be evening wedding receptions. They would be limited to the formal ceremony and afternoon reception.  Music would be limited. There would be limited formal receptions per year with music limited to accompaniment and background music.  A one off school folk dance festival would only move to this area in case of inclement weather.


·         A responsible person will be present during events, strictly enforced visiting times and a responsible person would be on the gate when the event concludes to ensure minimal exiting noise.


·         Neighbours would be given advanced notice of events and a community forum established to monitor the events.


·         In addition, an electricity supply to avoid noisy generators, additional toilets would be provided and working with the local youth service to prevent anti-social behaviour.


·         The applicant takes its responsibilities seriously and any complaints received.


·         The applicant is mindful of its role as a community focussed organisation and its responsibility as guardian of this historic site.  Therefore, wide ranging consultation has been undertaken.


·         Advice from Cadw had been sought with a view to ensuring the least impact to the Castle site. Compensatory measures will be made.


·         97% of the funding for this project has been secured from external sources.


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


·         Concern was expressed with regard to the detriment to the amenity of local people living in close proximity to the proposed structure.


·         The proposed structure would detract from the setting of the Castle.


·         There will be a significant negative impact upon the neighbours if the application is approved.


·         Should the application be approved, commencement times of events could be introduced via the Delegation Panel.


·         Most of the outdoor events are likely to take place in the summer months when nearby residents are most likely to have their windows open, potentially affecting their quality of life.


·         Residents had commissioned their own noise impact assessment report. However, the Authority has not undertaken a professional review of this report, which could have aided the Committee in the decision of the application.


·         There is a concern regarding residents’ amenity, which is valid.  However, the proposed use of the space will be a benefit to the community as a whole. The structure will enhance the site.


·         In response to a question raised regarding amplification of the music, the Principal Environmental Health Officer stated that the Environmental Health Department become involved in these types of applications to consider if a development is likely to give rise to an unacceptable risk of harm to amenity and health of nearby residents. In December 2018, the Department assessed a report submitted by the applicant. Whilst the Department did not object to speech only, it did raise concerns regarding the impact of the music events. No finish times had been proposed and no noise impact assessment had been provided.  Subsequently, the applicant submitted further event details in January 2019.  This had proposed significant changes on event finish times and the frequency and clarity regarding the management.


·         If a music event was held at the proposed pavilion, the music would be audible to the nearby properties. The balance proposed by the applicant is to limit the number of those events. Therefore, The Environmental Health Department considered that it was not in a position to object to the application.


·         With regard to the toilet facilities, there is an existing facility within the site that could be brought back into use, should the application be approved.


·         Concern was expressed that the location would not be appropriate for the proposed structure.


·         The proposed pavilion will receive community groups, school groups, outdoor theatre events, a maximum of four food and drink events per year, with other small scale events.


·         Monmouthshire County Council is the applicant and would therefore establish which events are held at the proposed pavilion.


·         It was noted that community events already occur in the Castle grounds which tend to be open air events.  The premises licence covers anywhere in the Castle grounds until 11.00pm Monday to Sunday.


It was proposed by County Councillor M. Powell and seconded by County Councillor A, Davies that we be minded to refuse application DM/2018/01909 on the grounds that the proposal would be detrimental to the amenity of local residents in relation to noise from the use of the facility and harmful to the setting of the ancient monument. The application would be re-presented to a future meeting of Planning Committee with appropriate reasons for refusal.


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


For refusal                 -           8

Against refusal         -           4

Abstentions               -           0


The proposition was carried.


We resolved that we be minded to refuse application DM/2018/01909 on the grounds that the proposal would be detrimental to the amenity of local residents in relation to noise from the use of the facility and harmful to the setting of the ancient monument. The application would be re-presented to a future meeting of Planning Committee with appropriate reasons for refusal.






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