Plans for business park to be built on family farm voted down
Councillors narrowly voted against plans to build a business park on land in the Vale of Glamorgan which has been farmed on by the same family for generations.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning committee opposed an application for the business park, which had been proposed for land at Model Farm in Rhoose, 1 by nine votes to eight.
The Jenkins family has worked on Model Farm since 1935.
Even if the planning committee had approved the application, it would not have given the go ahead for the development.
The council’s decision is subject to a holding direction from the Welsh Government.
This restricts the grant of planning permission until a decision has been made on whether the application should be referred to the Welsh Ministers.
For years, the plans for a business park, which is intended to support the aviation industry, has been the subject of intense debate, which was reflected again in Wednesday’s planning committee meeting.
Member of the planning committee, Cllr Gillian Bruce, said: “I do not want to see another concrete jungle in place of beautiful green fields.
“Before long, the Vale of Glamorgan will loose all of its natural beauty and will no longer be a tourist attraction and this will have a knock on effect on other businesses in the area.
“There are so many reasons why this development should not go ahead. I therefore cannot with a clear conscience vote to destroy a family home, aa family business – in fact a it is a nation-wide business, or working farm.”
The original planning decision to grant the application back in July 2021 was quashed due to a lack of viability information.
Viability information looks at whether a proposed development will be financially viable.
A committee meeting on the plans was deferred in October 2022 after the viability information had not been attached to the committee report.
Concerns remain among some council members and residents that the development is forecast, through an independent viability report, to make a £6 million loss in its first eight years.
When the application was brought back before the committee, Cllr Mark Wilson said: “It is a big application in the sense that it could create quite a lot of jobs for the welfare of the Vale of Glamorgan and these jobs are some of the jobs that we need in the Vale and in Wales.”
It is estimated that the proposed 44.75 hectare business park has the potential to create over 3,000 jobs.
The application also includes plans to change the use of some of the land at Model Farm from agricultural land into country park.
However, ward member for Rhoose, Cllr Samantha Campbell said she feared the development has the potential to become “a massive expensive derelict smudge on the beautiful Vale landscape”.
She said: “This development should not just been seen a Rhoose issue. This will negatively affect everyone in the Vale on a daily basis.
“I love the vastly green countryside that encapsulates our wonderful village. The fantastic wildlife and the beautiful fauna and flora.
“To grant permission for Model Farm to be concreted over would destroy that, not just for me and other residents, but for our children and their children.
“I want my daughter to grow up appreciating nature, not watching it be decimated.”
Managing director of Legal and General Strategic Land, Andrew McPhillips, said the site is “allocated for development within the current adopted local plan alongside the allocation in the enterprise zone of St Athan.”
He added: “Future for Wales, the national plan, identifies Cardiff Airport as an essential part of Wales’ strategic infrastructure and a key driver in the national economy.
“The application seeks to deliver significant private investment in the site and the immediate area, delivering the objectives and planning policy.
“The proposal delivers significant economic, social and environmental benefits supported by your officers without technical objections.
“The land is currently tenanted and should a consent be granted, I am pleased to confirm our tenant will be adequately compensated when the process for this is guided by law.”
When members of the planning committee vote against recommendations to approve an application, they are required to consider robust grounds for doing so as it could be subject to an appeal.
However, the head of regeneration and planning at the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Marcus Goldsworthy said there would be an issue with officers preparing recommendations or reasons for refusal as the application has been recommended for approval following an allocation in the Local Development Plan (LDP).
The LDP is what the council use to decide which areas of land can be built on and developed. The land proposed for the development forms part of the land allocated for employment use in the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s LDP.
Mr Goldsworthy said at the meeting: “Your officers, while giving some advice on what recommendations come up cannot present or prepare recommendations or reasons for refusal for this application as it would be contrary to their professional code of conduct.
“If committee were to go down that route, it would have to seek its own advice in due course regarding those reasons for refusal and their standing.”
The Vale of Glamorgan Council has been contacted for information on when planning committee members will be expected to finalise their reasons for refusal.
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.