Farmer wins appeal to keep extension after national park’s order to tear it down
Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter
A Gwynedd farmer ordered to tear down an extension he built to house his sick mother has now won an appeal to keep it.
Having been refused permission to retain a two-storey extension at his Nant Cwmbran Isaf farm near Nasareth, Gwynedd, farmer Alun Lewis launched a last-chance appeal with the Planning Inspectorate to try and overturn an enforcement notice on it to be demolished.
Having won the appeal against Snowdonia National Park after a two-year battle, Mr Lewis yesterday described it as a “massive weight off his shoulders”.
The Snowdonia National Park Authority, which has accepted the result, stressed the importance of contacting the planning service for pre-application advice before undertaking any development work.
Mr Lewis, whose wife is an NHS nurse with five children living at the property, admitted that the extension was larger than the one earlier approved by the park authority.
He argued that they needed more floorspace, however, as “in hindsight they did not meet his family needs” and required “something larger and purposefully built.”
His appeal documents also noted that the work was carried out to help the family care for his then 79-year-old mother after she suffered a stroke and was subsequently diagnosed with dementia.
But after work started on the amended extension he received a visit from national park enforcement officers, who in 2019 asked him to cease construction, knock down the extension and revert back to what he already had planning permission for.
With Mr Lewis subsequently submitting a retrospective planning application, attracting local support and a petition with hundreds of names, the planning committee refused the application in September 2020, giving the family just a year to revert the farmhouse back to its permitted state.
While the footprint of the original farmhouse was 62 square metres, the extension alone covers 87 square metres, described by park planners as “overdevelopment” and “an incongruous and overly dominant addition to the original dwelling.”
But publishing his report this week, planning inspector Richard Duggan confirmed that the appeal was being permitted, pending certain conditions being met on the extension not being used as a separate dwelling in future.
Speaking on Friday, Mr Lewis told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he was “over the moon.”
“This is a real weight off my mind after two years and I can’t thank those who supported me enough, such as Liz Saville Roberts MP, Cllr Owain Williams, those on the planning committee that backed me and the local community council.
“My neighbours have also been so supportive, I wish now to just draw a line under the whole saga and move on living in our family home.”
Finding that the extension “does not have a detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the host property or on the special qualities of the National Park,” Mr Duggan’s report added that the personal circumstances were given only “limited weight” in the final decision, however.
“Contemporary additions and alterations to older buildings can be successful because they purposely contrast in terms of design and materials with those of the original building, and I consider this to be the case in this instance,” he wrote.
“I am not only satisfied that the development respects what is left of the character of the farmhouse, this is an impressive extension that architecturally enhances the property.
“Due to the modern and innovative materials used on the facade and the use of large areas of glass, it is read as a clearly separate and subservient addition to the property.
“Therefore, I find that the modern design and scale of the extension is an appropriately designed addition to the property, especially given the fact that the appearance of the two-storey farmhouse has already been harmed by the other extensions.”
A spokesperson for the Snowdonia National Park Authority said, “The National Park Authority accepts the outcome of the appeal in relation to an enforcement notice served on a two storey extension at Nant Cwmbran, Nebo, following the refusal of a retrospective planning application in September 2020.
“Although in this case the outcome of the appeal means that planning consent has been granted for the extension, we would like to emphasise the importance of getting in touch with the Planning Service for pre-application advice before undertaking any development work in order to avoid this kind of situation from occurring in the future.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.
So that’s OK then, lots of glass and big developments wherever you like. No disrespect to Mr Lewis and his family but this has just created caselaw and precedent that will make future applications difficult to turn down.
that is a very attractive extension to a very small house. I cant see why they would want it removed other than annoyance at lack of process.
How hard did Britain have to fight to get its National Parks? Way behind other parts of the world. Without planning rules, our AONBs would be a complete free-for-all, although of course we all know excruciating stories of people being run ragged and having their pockets picked by over-zealous NP planning officials. (And I lived for a time in the Lake District and we had it there too.)
For an example of good architecture have a look at the HQ of Eryri National Park Authority…shame about the old hospital opposite and Coleg Harlech!