7.1 FPL/2021/10 – Bron Castell, Llanfairynghornwy
7.2 FPL/2020/98 – Cae Prytherch, Llanfairpwll
7.3 FPL/2021/38 – Gwel y Môr, Trearddur Bay
7.1 FPL/2021/10 – Retrospective application for the erection of a garage on land adjacent to Bron Castell, Llanfairynghornwy
The application was reported to the Planning and Orders Committee as it had been called in by a Local Member due to the local community’s concerns regarding the scale, location and design of the garage. At its meeting held on 7 April, 2021 the Committee resolved to undertake a site visit prior to determining the application. A virtual site inspection was subsequently carried out on 21 April, 2021. At its meeting held on 5 May, 2021, the Committee resolved to refuse the application contrary to the Officer’s recommendation because it deemed the proposal would have an effect on the amenity of the adjoining property which is contrary to planning policy PCYFF 2.
Councillor Llinos Medi, a Local Member reiterated that there was no objection to the dwelling which has been approved and is under construction, and that the residents of Bron Castell are pleased that it will be occupied by a local family. The concerns are focused on the re-siting of the garage and its increased scale. Referring to the Officer’s report on the matter, the Local Member said that although the conditions under which a proposed development can be refused under criterion 7 of Policy CYFF 2 are listed, she felt there was insufficient acknowledgment of the adverse impact the development in question would have on the privacy of the occupants of Bron Castell as well as its shadowing effect. Whilst the report does acknowledge that part of the garden at Bron Castell will be subject to a certain degree of shadowing during the day it does not take account of the garden’s incline which the objector had sought to convey at the Committee’s previous meeting, and it does not therefore fully reflect the actual situation. Councillor Llinos Medi said that she appreciated the report refers to the issues raised by Members as being legitimate planning considerations and she added that the matter is a cause for sadness in that the application for a dwelling was approved with full support for the applicants as a local family but the unapproved re-siting of the garage has had a detrimental impact on another family who were denied the usual opportunity to voice their objections because planning procedure was not followed. She asked the Committee to adhere to its previous decision to refuse the application.
The Development Management Manager reported that the application was refused by the Committee at its 5 May, 2021 meeting contrary to the Officer’s recommendation because Members thought the garage as currently positioned would have an unacceptable adverse impact on the amenities of the occupants of Bron Castell. The Officer’s report addresses the reason for refusing the application and maintains the view that the impact of the proposal is not such as to warrant refusal and that concerns about the effect on neighbours have been mitigated as part of the application. A letter in support of the application has been submitted by the applicant. The Officer’s recommendation remains to approve the application.
Councillor John Griffith a Local Member and member of the Committee, in agreeing with Councillor Llinos Medi said that there are significant differences between the garage approved and that constructed in terms of scale and position for which additional planning permission was required but was only sought upon the intervention of the Enforcement section – neither was there consultation with the occupants of Bron Castell. Councillor Griffith thought the virtual site visit showed the extent of the impact of the re-sited garage on Bron Castell with regard to shadowing, and the loss of privacy resulting from the garage’s proximity to Bron Castell as well as the toing and froing that would ensue. The plot is large enough to allow the garage to be sited elsewhere in a more suitable position that would not have affected Bron Castell. It was Councillor Griffith’s view that the proposal would by virtue of its size, positioning, use, proximity and overlooking adversely affect the amenities of the occupants of Bron Castell and that criterion 7 of Policy PCyff 2 does apply and is relevant in this case. He therefore proposed that the Committee’s previous decision of refusal be reaffirmed. The proposal was seconded by Councillor Kenneth Hughes who also believed that the development as it is, has a detrimental effect on the amenities of Bron Castell’s occupants and that the situation need not have arisen.
It was resolved to reaffirm the Committee’s previous decision to refuse the application contrary to the Officer’s recommendation because it is deemed the proposal would have an effect on the amenity of the adjoining property contrary to planning policy PCYFF 2.
7.2 FPL/2020/98 – Retrospective application for the retention of engineering works creating a hard standing surface for agricultural storage use and permitted development use as a car boot site together with the retention of the alterations made to the vehicular access on land at Cae Prytherch, Llanfairpwll
The application was reported to the Planning and Orders Committee as the applicant is an Elected Member. At its meeting on 5 May, 2021 the Committee resolved to refuse both the retention of the alterations made to the vehicular access to the site and the retention of the engineering works to create a hard surface to be used for agricultural storage. The Committee’s refusal of the retention of the alterations made to the vehicular access to the application site is contrary to the Officer’s recommendation and was made on the basis that they are deemed contrary to Policies CYFF 2 and 3.
Having declared a personal and prejudicial interest in the application, Councillors Eric Jones and Dafydd Roberts withdrew from the meeting during the discussion and voting thereon.
Councillor R. Meirion Jones, a Local Member in addressing the meeting referred to the results of a traffic survey undertaken by a local resident which he had mentioned at the previous meeting which saw 88 vehicles going by the application site in one 15 minute period and another 95 vehicles in a subsequent 15 minute period in the week prior to the Committee’s 5 May meeting. The local resident thought that the application and the conduct of the applicant in disregarding planning procedure and proceeding in his own way was an affront to the Council. Should the application be approved it would likely open the door to every farmer to be able to hold a car boot sale. However it is important to differentiate between the application and the fact that it is being made retrospectively and to consider the nature of the proposal regardless of the process. Regarding the recommended approval of the access, Councillor Meirion Jones said that it is likely that most agricultural fields on the Island and beyond would benefit from having a wider access but that is not a reason for approving this or any such similar applications; also as one objector highlighted, the access has an industrial look rather than an entrance to an agricultural field on the fringe of a village. Referring to the Officer’s report and specifically the comparison drawn between the gates and fencing erected on the application site which are described as robust and larger than the previous agricultural gate, and those found at the car park of the Co-op supermarket and the rear boundary of James Pringle Weavers, the Local Member said that he did not recognise this characterisation of the area – the fence alongside the rear boundary of the James Pringle Weavers separates the site from the main railway line and has to be robust for that purpose; but there is no such fence to the street facing aspect of the site. Neither is there a fence to the front of the Co-op supermarket with the only substantial fence being to the rear around the car parking area. Additionally he could not see how a valid comparison could be made between sites that have different class usage – the Co-Op supermarket and James Pringle Weavers have a retail use whereas the application site does not. Councillor Meirion Jones said that if the Committee could not accept the points he was making then he would have to request a deferral for a site visit to be made; otherwise he was asking the Committee to reject the application.
In response to a question by the Chair about whether the local community is opposed to the widening of the access or the industrial nature of the gate and fencing, or both, Councillor Meirion Jones confirmed that the local community opposes all the elements that were rejected at the last meeting.
The Development Management Manager reported that the application was refused in its totality by the Committee at its last meeting despite the Officer’s recommendation that the alterations to the vehicular access to the site be approved. The Officer’s report to this meeting addresses the Committee’s reasons for refusing that element of the application and maintains the view that the alterations to the access are acceptable. The Highways Authority and Welsh Government’s Department for Economy and Infrastructure have raised no objections to the altered access and consider that the increase in the width of the entrance and the setting back of the gate further from the road improve accessibility and safety in and out of the site. With regard to the visual appearance of the gate and fence the report provides an assessment of similar features in the locality and concludes that the subject gate and fence are not incongruous in their context, and they have not formed part of the enforcement notice. The recommendation remains to refuse the engineering works to create a hard surface and to approve the alterations to the vehicular access to the site.
Councillor Trefor Lloyd Hughes, MBE sought clarification of how the application could be split into two elements and not dealt with as one composite application. The Development Management Manager clarified that where circumstances permit, it is possible to make a split recommendation; the development under consideration is divisible into two distinct elements even though they form one application – the hard surface element is capable of standing alone as is the access and associated gate and fence. Where one element is acceptable and the other is not as in the present case it is possible to split the recommendation.
Councillor Robin Williams thought that it would have been helpful had the development been divided into three elements – the hard surface, the access, and the fence and gate on the basis that if the hard surface area is to be restored to an agricultural field then there is no need for a fence and gate on the scale of that in situ which is out of keeping with the surrounding area; the comparison made with the fence to the rear of the Co-op supermarket and that to the rear of the James Pringle Weavers site is inappropriate and inaccurate. Had the development been in three parts he would have been prepared to reconsider and to support the widened access on its own but as the Officer’s recommendation links the access with the fence and gate, he saw no alternative but to propose that the application be refused in its entirety because it is contrary to Planning Policies PCYFF 2 and PCYFF 3.
In response to a query by the Chair about whether it would be permissible to come to a separate decision on the hard surface, the access, and the gate and fence, the Development Management Manager confirmed that that is possible; the recommendation has been made on the basis that it is the Officer’s view that the alterations to the access including the gate and fence are acceptable. However, if it is the Committee’s view that the widening of the access is acceptable but the installation of the gate and fence is not, than it can split the decision further than that which is recommended by the Officer’s report.
In light of the Officer’s advice Councillor Robin Williams said that he would therefore like to amend his proposal for the following - that the retention of the engineering works to create a hard surface on site be refused in accordance with the Officer’s recommendation, and that the alterations to the vehicular access be retained apart from the existing gate and fence which he proposed be refused with a condition that they be replaced with a structure more in keeping with an agricultural field. The proposal was seconded by Councillor Richard Owain Jones and was carried in the ensuing vote.
It was resolved –
• To reaffirm the Committee’s previous decision to refuse the retention of the engineering works to create a hard surface on site.
• To approve the retention of alterations made to the vehicular access in the form of the widening of the access.
• To refuse the retention of the alterations made to the vehicular access in the form of the installation of the metal gate and fence and to recommend requiring their replacement with a structure in keeping with an agricultural field.
7.3 FPL/2021/38 – Full application for the siting of 2 glamping pods together with the creation of a new access and associated development on land adjacent to Gwel y Môr, Penrhosfeilw
The application was reported to the Planning and Orders Committee at the request of a Local Member due to there being a touring park and holiday lets nearby and two shepherd huts in close proximity to the application site. At its meeting held on 5 May, 2021 the Committee resolved to visit the site. A virtual site inspection was subsequently held on 19 May, 2021.
Councillor J. Arwel Roberts, a Local Member read out a letter by the applicant and his wife which emphasised their credentials as a local family who take a passionate interest in the local community and environment both of which they are keen to promote and preserve. Their aim is to start a small intimate glamping business consisting of a maximum of two wooden glamping pods which would each accommodate a maximum of two persons. Each pod would be kitted out with a shower room, a kitchenette, a bed and a small table and chairs. To maintain the integrity of the landscape each pod has been custom built and fitted with wheels so that they can be easily relocated out of season. Waste water will be dealt with by means of a flat tank whose flat, slide under design allows it to be positioned above ground tucked underneath the glamping pod. A system called grass road has also been incorporated within the overall design which eliminates the need for a hardstanding area for parking. Two electric charging points have been added and cycle racks have been included to encourage sustainable travel both to and within the locality. Hedge and tree planting along the perimeter of the field which would contain the pods has begun with the aim of both providing screening and a habitat for local wildlife. No objections to the proposal have been received.
The letter proceeds to note the applicant and his wife’s devastation at being refused planning permission on three points – the first is that the proposal is not well sited due to the fact there are no local bus stops or pavements within walking distance. The site is right next to a popular cycle route and dozens of cyclists pass the property hourly as do a copious amount of walkers and runners without problems. The family has completed several traffic surveys during daytime hours in August 2020 and found that on average 108 motor vehicles and 12 bicycles passed the site. It is assumed that this number will increase in future due to the investment in the South Stack visitor centre and the lifting of Covid 19 restrictions. It is not felt that two extra vehicles would have any impact especially if both were electric vehicles. The second point of refusal is that the pods need be connected to a business idea e.g. a fishing lake so that anglers could use the pods. There is no fishing lake and to create such a lake would go against many of the other planning policies. The applicant’s market is aimed at cyclists and potentially astronomers, the application site having no light pollution and being a fantastic place for star gazing. The final point of refusal is in relation to the impact on neighbours. The applicant emphasises that each pod would have a maximum occupancy of only 2 persons per pod thereby making them unsuitable for families with children and reducing the likelihood of any rowdy behaviour or loud noise which would cause a negative impact. There would be no facilities such as an outdoor hot tub or similar which are notoriously responsible for rowdiness and noise. The applicant expresses his frustration at having to walk past so many properties within 1.5 miles of the application site which have caravan sites with no other business connections and expresses his view that the impact on the landscape and environment of a single white caravan is far more imposing than a wooden pod and is far less sustainable. The applicant’s aim is to create an environmentally friendly intimate glamping site with a maximum of 2 pods and only 2 people per pod, which will blend into the landscape.
Councillor J. Arwel Robert, speaking as a Local Member said that he fully supported the application and pointed out that no statutory body has objected to the proposal despite its being situated in an AONB. The Council’s Landscape Advisor has not provided a response and the Ecological and Environmental Advisor recommends conditional approval as does the Highways Authority. A few campsites can be found in the locality as well as shepherd huts in a nearby field. In addition, many properties have had large extensions built or have been completely demolished and rebuilt in the area which is an AONB. Councillor Roberts in referring to the main grounds for refusal based on the Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) for Tourism Facilities and Accommodation, which were the siting of the proposal which is considered obtrusive having only limited screening and its not being a site of high quality development, highlighted that the SPG even though it may carry some weight, has not been adopted as is acknowledged by the Officer’s report. He said that interpretation of the SPG is subjective and a matter of opinion. He referred to the details provided in the applicant’s letter about the pods they wished to install which were wooden and custom made and the planting that had commenced to reduce visual impact as well as the grass road design which is not visible. Whilst the road past the application site is well used, the applicants are seeking to attract walkers, bird-watchers, and cyclists and star gazers and have provided charging points for electric cars. He referred to ambiguity with regard TAN 18 which states that “most” developments should be in development areas accessible by a range of travel modes implying that some developments could be acceptable. He further referred to planning applications as being white, black or grey and felt that the application in this case falls within a grey area meaning it is open to interpretation – the Officer’s report makes use of the words, could, might, may suggesting that the application can be seen in another way as well. As regards the proposal’s impact on close neighbours, they have not objected and no objections have been raised with himself as a Local Member; the applicant is willing to abide by any restrictions imposed by Committee and has had regard for the amenities of his neighbours in limiting the occupancy of the pods to two, thereby reducing any impact from noise and general disturbance. Additionally the report states that should the application be acceptable there would be a condition restricting the site’s operational period to between 2 March and 31 October of the same year.
Councillor Dafydd Rhys Thomas, also a Local Member said that although he was initially doubtful about the proposed development and was in agreement with the Officer’s recommendation of refusal because it is considered contrary to the policies of the Joint Local Development Plan, having listened to his fellow Local Member his views had shifted and he agreed that the application is “borderline.” In noting that the Trearddur Community Council is not overly keen on the proposal he confirmed that he did not oppose it believing it to be an application by a local family for a modest, “green” enterprise.
The Development Management Manager reported that the proposal is located in open countryside within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the coast of Ynys Cybi. Whilst Policy TWR 5 permits new touring caravans, camping and temporary alternative camping sites, the criteria require that such sites are high quality in terms of design, layout and appearance and that they are sited in an unobtrusive location which is well screened by existing landscape features and/or where the units can be readily assimilated into the landscape in a way which does not significantly harm the visual quality of the landscape. It is the Officer’s view that the proposed development is obtrusive and as such would be harmful to the open landscape around the application site; although landscaping is proposed as part of the scheme, there are concerns that due to the exposed location, planting is slow to establish and could take many years to have any effect. Additionally, when they are not in use during the winter months all such units are expected to be removed from the site; the proposal although it states that the pods will be removed off site, they will not be stored in an existing building but will be stored in the open and will be visible from the main highway and further afield. It is the Officer’s conclusion that the proposed development is not high quality and is not in a sustainable location being some distance away from the nearest service centre, and although there is no objection from the occupants of the adjoining property, the Officer considers that the proposal would by virtue of noise and general disturbance have an unacceptable impact on the immediate residential properties. The recommendation is therefore to refuse the application.
Councillor Trefor Lloyd Hughes, MBE highlighted that the application site is large for 2 pods and although saying that he did not oppose the application as such he would prefer if any permission could be conditional upon limiting the number of pods on site to two.
The Development Management Manager advised that whereas placing a condition to limit the number of pods on site is possible, consideration has to be given to whether in the event of a further application for additional pods, the condition would hold water in an appeal. Once the principle of development on site is accepted, the policy does not place a limit on numbers and the Committee if it were to refuse a further application for the same, would have to be able to demonstrate that any additional units would result in more harmful impacts than the two it had approved.
Councillor John Griffith said that consideration has to be given to the proposal’s location in the open countryside within the AONB and to whether it would harm the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape. He was particularly worried that approving the application would set a precedent for similar applications across the Island and in agreeing with the Officer’s views, he proposed that the application be refused in accordance with the Officer’s recommendation.
Councillor Ieuan Williams thought the application was a difficult one to determine and that the SPG which is unadopted, might need to be revisited in light of the increase in glamping pods as well as a high number of static caravans on the Island which are incidental to properties many of which are in breach of planning rules. He was concerned about the cumulative effect of the pods and although he had initially been minded to support the application, after careful thought and because of his concerns about the haphazard development of pods across the Island he seconded Councillor John Griffith’s proposal of refusal.
Councillor Richard Owain Jones although he agreed that consideration needs to be given to the proliferation of such developments was of the view that the proposal had been well thought out as supported by the details provided in the applicant’s letter and on that basis he proposed that the application be approved contrary to the Officer’s recommendation. Councillor Glyn Haynes in seconding the proposal said that he was very familiar with the site and believed that the proposed development would not be obtrusive. A caravan camping site situated almost opposite the application site is unscreened and highly visible from afar. He acknowledged the letter by the applicant and thought the proposal would be beneficial to the area.
In the ensuing vote the proposal to approve the application contrary to the Officer’s recommendation was carried by 6 votes to 3. Councillor Trefor Lloyd Hughes, MBE abstained from voting because he felt he could only support the application if the development was restricted to 2 pods.
It was resolved to approve the application contrary to the Officer’s recommendation because it was deemed the proposal would not result in an obtrusive and unsustainable development of holiday accommodation in the countryside nor would it have an unacceptable impact on the immediate residential properties (Councillor Trefor Lloyd Hughes, MBE abstained from voting).
(In accordance with the requirements of the Council’s Constitution, the application was automatically deferred to the next meeting to allow Officers the opportunity to prepare a report in respect of the reasons given for approving the application)