Gwynedd councillor says opposing second home extension has seen him ‘accused of racism’
Dale Spridgeon, local democracy reporter
A Gwynedd councillor who spoke against plans to extend a second home in Aberdaron says his concerns have led to him being “unfairly accused of racism.”
Councillor Gareth Williams says a planning matter reported in the Daily Post in July led to him receiving “unfair accusations” on social media.
Cllr Williams had raised issues over a garage extension at a house called Pelydryn.
He argued that by accepting the application planners could “open the floodgates” to similar “unnecessary” schemes detrimental” to the character of Aberdaron.
The proposals were again being discussed at Gwynedd Council’s latest planning committee on Monday.
They had also come before the committee on July 4, when a decision was deferred pending a site a visit – which was held last week.
This time, the committee approved the proposal by Phillip Emm to erect a single-storey extension at the front of a bungalow beside the B4413.
Cllr Williams had strongly argued the extension was a potential “eysore” industrial in size, and detrimental to the neighbours’ amenities and character of neighbouring homes.
But council officers who recommended permitting the extension argued it was a “householde application” for a “small extension.”
Cllr Williams told Monday’s meeting that “nothing has changed in my opinion since the last meeting” and read the same statement raising objections.
He also told the committee: “This article resulted in me being accused of being racist and having a personal agenda as the councillor for the area.
“There were many other accusations on social media.” He said.
“This was totally unfair and inaccurate, the reason I refer to this being a ‘second home’ which is empty most of the year ,was to highlight there is no real need to extend this garage.
“It will have so much impact on the amenity of the neighbours who are there all throughout the year.”
The plans included extending the existing garage which formed an integrated part of the house, 1.5m forwards.
It also meant a pitch roof 3.8m high (1.2m lower than the pitch of the roof itself) with a garage door to the front, 2.6m high and 3.m across.
According to council officers, the design and proposed materials were “acceptable” and “would not impair the character and appearance of the area.”
The bungalow was one of four in a row between Capel Salem, a converted home, and Ysgol Crud Y Werin.
Officer Kiara Ann Sweeny said during the site visit the location of the side windows of the nearby dwelling was highlighted and the general development pattern of the area
“Nothing has changed in the application since it was submitted before.” She said.
“It’s not considered the development would be harmful to amenities of nearby residents or on the street scape therefore the recommendation remains to approve with conditions.”
Cllr Gareth Williams said: “I’d like to repeat the speech I made in July. I really hope you will go against this application.
“As you know Mr Gareth Roberts was the local member for the Aberdaron ward (before reorganisation) and he wished to call this application back to the committee in March
“As local councillor for the area, I agree with the previous councillor.
“This is not a need for an extension because a family is extending and growing this is a choice by the owners of a second home to adapt it for leisure purposes.
“He wants to keep a tractor and boat in the garage when he comes to the house to stay.
“It will mean Pelydryn is different to the other three bungalows, an eyesore, totally out of character in my opinion, not in keeping with nearby houses.”
He also expressed concerns for the neighbours amenities and was “angry and frustrated,” that residents at Capel Salem could lose their view and light.
He also raised a timber building being developed “without planning permission.” at the rear of the property.
The site was “… being turned into more of an industrial unit than a residential home.” He said.
Concluding his argument, Cllr Williams said “This is not a dispute between neighbours.
“The fact that the former councillor voiced his concerns so clearly by calling this to the committee and the fact the Community Council in Aberdaron has also gone against it.
“That shows you clearly the feeling of the local community about this application.”
Regarding the timber building, Kiara Sweeney said a planning application had “since been received separately for that building” and would be discussed at another meeting.
When making their decision, she urged committee members to consider policy over extensions, which did not ask for “justification for this type of development.”
“What it asks for is a standard to the design, that it is not harmful to the amenities and appearance of an area,” She said.
“The fact this is is a development that is desirable to the applicant is not material to considering the application.
“You need to consider how it will look in the street scape, and if there is an impact on neighbours or not.
“You need to consider the application as it is submitted, it is a householder application.
“It is not for business use, and allegations of what something can become is not relevant. There is no suggestion of any business use here.”
Another Councillor Gruff Williams proposed a vote to refuse the application over of its “affect on the AONB and as an “over-development” a move seconded by Louise Hughes.
The monitoring officer Iwan Evans stepped into advise members over policy.
Gareth Jones planning officer also explained, it was “a small extension to a bungalow, it was not going to have an impact on neighbours and the street scape and AONB.
“If you did refuse this, an appeal would be granted in my opinion.” He added.
Cllr Ann Lloyd Jones said she didn’t think it would have impact and would not effect the chapel.
“It didnt reach the window or lighting, we have had the case and lost it on appeal, I fear that we have to go with the recommendation in the report.” She said.
She proposed accepting the officers recommendations and Cllr Hugh Wyn Jones seconded.
The vote went with eight in favour of the officers’ recommendations five against. The extension was permitted.
A Gwynedd Council Spokesperson said: “At a meeting of the Gwynedd Council Planning Committee, permission for a single storey extension at Pelydryn, Aberdaron was granted in accordance with the officers’ recommendation.”
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Is it considered racist when English regions such as Yorkshire decide to explore the possibility of raising Council tax premiums on second homes or tourism taxes (as Birmingham considered prior to the Commonwealth Games)? Of course not.
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