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Council to appeal against decision made by its own planning committee

22 Sep 2021 4 minute read
The Vale of Glamorgan Council building

Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter

Vale of Glamorgan council is set to appeal against a decision by its own planning committee about building houses on a village green.

The council’s housing department wants to build four houses and six flats on a village green in Bonvilston.

But earlier this month councillors on the planning committee voted against granting permission for the affordable housing scheme, due to concerns about the loss of the green.

An application to legally protect the site as a ‘village green’ was dismissed earlier this year. While local residents still continue to refer to the area as a ‘village green’, the council has said this is inaccurate following the legal ruling.

Councillors couldn’t agree on a reason to refuse permission, so they voted to defer making a decision.

Now the housing department is appealing to the Welsh Government against that delay.

Details of the internal row were revealed in a recent cabinet report. The council’s cabinet is expected to sign off the appeal at a meeting on Monday, September 27.

Some councillors suggested the plans should be changed, with fewer homes and keeping more of the green as public open space. But this would make the scheme “unaffordable”, according to the cabinet report, and make it harder to find developers to build the homes.

The report said: “A scheme of fewer dwellings would be a less attractive commercial prospect for potential bidders at tender stage.

“It would be a poor use of public resources to replan for a less efficient scheme that would deliver less affordable housing, at a time when need for affordable housing has never been greater.”

The plans for the 10 homes on land north of Maes-Y-Ffynon were first put forward in 2019. The planning committee initially heard the application in July last year, but voted to defer making a decision, pending the outcome of a separate application by local residents to legally register the land as a village green, which would protect it from development.

But the village green application was later turned down. The planning committee again heard the application on September 1, and again voted to defer the application.

‘Couldn’t agree’ 

Planning law means councillors must give specific legal reasons to refuse permission for developments, and the Vale’s committee couldn’t agree on reasons to refuse the village green scheme.

St Nicholas with Bonvilston community council opposed the scheme for “a huge list of reasons”, and had previously asked for a community asset transfer to take control of the village green and enhance it, although this was refused.

The green is one of the few parts of open public space in the area and is well used by local residents.

A later part of the cabinet report explains how appealing against the decision — made by elected councillors — meets one of the council’s wellbeing objectives of “involving the population in decisions”.

It said: “In arriving at a decision to provide new affordable housing, the council will fully consult with its tenants and residents on development proposals and consider their response, from the feasibility stage through to the determination of the planning application and when the scheme is being delivered.”

If the housing department wins the appeal, the Welsh Government’s planning inspectorate could decide to grant planning permission for the village green scheme.

The council said the land was not a village green but the site of former garages.

A Vale of Glamorgan council spokesperson said: “The council’s housing department has asked cabinet to allow it to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate in an effort to progress this much-needed development.

“There are currently 6,000 people on the waiting list for a council home in the Vale, where there is a significant shortage of suitable housing.

“The council has recently delivered social housing developments at Clos Holm View and Llys Llechwedd Jenner in Barry. Others are in the pipeline at Hayes Road and Hayeswood Road in the town along with an older persons’ apartment complex in Penarth.

“This is an important 10-property development in Bonvilston that will meet the needs of the community now and in the future.”

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