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Residents hit out at ‘overbearing’ temporary accommodation for refugees from the war in Ukraine

03 Mar 2024 5 minute read
A view of the temporary accommodation units at the former Eagleswell Primary School site from Ann Knight’s home. Photo Ann Knight.

Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter

Residents say they are furious about the “overbearing” nature of portable homes that have been put up as short-term housing for those in need, including refugees from the war in Ukraine.

Plans for temporary accommodation units on land formerly occupied by Eagleswell Primary School in Llantwit Major were approved in January 2023, through what is known as permitted development rights.

This allows developments to go ahead without planning permission. However, some local claim that the units breach certain planning regulations.

Massive units

One resident, David Thomas, said the accommodation units were about 16m from his property and as little as 8m from a neighbour’s.

Mr Thomas said: “If these aren’t overbearing, I don’t know what a definition of overbearing would be.

“We have looked at other planning applications on this estate within 50 yards of here and they refused people to have extensions because it is overbearing on their neighbours.

“From my French doors in the morning, I stand here putting the kettle on and all I can see is these massive units.”

He said the council put up a 1.8m fence between his property and the accommodation site, but added that someone from the site would still be able to view into his property.

“I am looking here now… it makes absolutely no difference.

“It is the same height as my fence I have got already and I can still see all the windows of the base floor from top to bottom.”

A view of the temporary accommodation units in Llantwit Major. Photo David Thomas.

The council said its temporary accommodation site, made up of 90 units, was for Ukranian refugees fleeing the war in their country.

In a comment made at the end of 2023, Vale of Glamorgan Council said it was not possible to say for how long the accommodation units would be needed.

“It is disgusting what has been foisted on us to be honest,” said one resident, Ann Knight.

“We are fortunate, we have got quite a long garden. It is only the bottom half of our garden that is affected.

“The photos I sent… are the view from our bedroom windows but a lot of the neighbours have got them looking into their properties.

“All of Pembroke Place has and I know some are making themselves ill over it.”

Planning application

The permitted development rights on the temporary housing development run for 12 months, and as this period came to a close the council prepared a planning application for the site.

Vale of Glamorgan Council said the planning committee was aiming to make a decision on the scheme in February, but this did not happen.

The planning application on the council’s website says a decision is yet to be made on the development.

Mrs Knight said the noise during the construction of the site was “incessant” and “dreadful”.

She added: “There was beeping all of the time and the vehicles are reversing. They did their best.

“I know one person had their windows cleaned a few times by the Vale because they were covered in dust.

“Our car was covered in dust all of the time. It was just a building site.”

Ann Knight, a resident of Llantwit Major, said the temporary accommodation units are “overbearing” and too close to peoples’ homes. Photo Ann Knight.

Her husband, Don Knight, transformed the couple’s back garden into a Japanese garden which they used to open to members of the public for charity.

However, Mrs Knight said the couple were unable to do that last year.

She said: “There is a lot involved to us opening the garden. We get all of the chairs out, all the cushions out and we couldn’t have done any of that because the garden was dirty.

“Okay, it would have been quiet on a Sunday because they don’t work the Sunday, but it only really gave the Saturday afternoon to get everything done for us to be able to be open. It would have been impossible.”

At the time of their approval, the council said the units had been purposely designed to be demountable and could be easily removed and reused for either temporary or permanent accommodation on other sites.

Most of the accommodation is single storey, apart from a number of units in the centre of the site which are two storeys in height.

The scheme will have its own internal road layout and drainage infrastructure, including car parking, and seek to retain many of the established trees and ecological features on the site.

A statement about the scheme on the Vale of Glamorgan Council website says: “Welsh Government has declared Wales a ‘Nation of Sanctuary’, emphasising its desire to help improve the lives of refugees and asylum seekers.

“The Council is committed to that aim and has a statutory as well as a moral obligation, as do all Welsh Local Authorities, to provide humanitarian aid and accommodation to those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.

“The Council is proud that since the start of the war it has made a significant effort to help those in need. Large numbers have been provided in short-term Welcome Centre and hotel accommodation, while hundreds of Vale residents have shown immense kindness in opening up their homes to Ukrainian evacuees.

“With the war in Ukraine likely to continue for some time, these families now need more suitable accommodation. That is what the temporary homes in Llantwit Major will provide.”

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1 month ago

If Ukraine falls, then Putin continues west. The country is being murdered and raped by that dictator. The people fighting and fleeing need help. Support Ukraine.

1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

You could say at least the same as Netanyahu and Palestine, but somehow some of the same people that get so exercised about Ukraine, don’t seem to have a problem with the Netanyahu regime invading Palestine.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

I read this then I read about billions of leveling up money not being enough and being swallowed by inflation etc…

Gove is the evil Machiavellian twin of Chris Grayling behind the Tories, but money going missing whilst in his care should be reported to the police…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Donetsk or Hughesovka whatever;

The authorities could have done better, billions of Gove’s leveling up money turns into pipe dreams…do we have to be as sh*t as them…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

For those of advancing years who may be familiar with the adventures of the Furry Freak Brothers there is one in particular that describes the doings of Michael Gove and the Cabinet Office…

It is set in South America and the plot revolves around a big bag of Bolivian marching powder and plans that go awry…

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