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Councillors bend planning rules

county hallAN APPLICATION for an affordable house to be built on land south of Summerside in Upper Tancredston, Hayscastle, caused much debate among councillors.

It was recommended that the application be refused, but at the Planning and Rights of Way Committee meeting on Tuesday some councillors voted in favour of the plan.

The reason for refusing it was given in the agenda and said:

“The proposed development would conflict with the Council’s restraint strategy on new housing in the countryside. The proposal would create an unjustified visual intrusion into the countryside and represent an unsustainable form of development by reason of the absence of local services and facilities.”

Councillor Lyn Jenkins spoke in support of the application saying:

“It is well known that Pembrokeshire needs to find 4000 affordable homes and no objections have been raised to this application”.

Applicant Sarah Goddard added:

“Everything we have done looks toward the future. We understand that approving this application goes against your newly implemented policies but Pembrokeshire needs every affordable home it can get”.

The council’s Head of Planning, Hywel Jones, spoke to give clarification on the matter. He said:

“The LDP was set up to ensure patterns of development are sustainable. If we start departing from that we will incur the wrath of the Welsh Government. It’s the legal duty we have when we make these decisions. If we accept this it may well open the door for a flood of applications”.

Councillor Gwilym Price said:

“They should be supported in every way possible; I don’t for one second beleive that this could open the door for more applications”.

Councillor Brian Hall moved the recommendation for refusal and said:

“This does not comply with our policy; an affordable house has to come within an existing settlement”.

However, Councillor Jacob Williams said:

“This application is quite unique, there isn’t one objection. I appreciate that it’s not in our boundaries but I cannot see this as an intrusion into the countryside.

Councillor David Pugh said:

“I find this a very difficult application, but I have to support the recommendation for refusal. We all signed up for LDP earlier this year, we can’t keep departing from the rule book”.

Councillor Peter Morgan then moved that the application be approved, a motion which was seconded by Cllr Williams.

The director of development, Dr Steven Jones, asked:

“What are the material considerations that out-weigh the policies?”

Both councillors were asked to come up with reasons but they could not give a full answer.

Cllr Williams quoted from Planning Policy Wales, but Hywel Jones responded:

“The LDP trumps the PPW”.Cllr Morgan and Cllr Williams then withdrew their earlier proposal to accept the plans and allowed for the original recommendation to go to a vote. Six members voted for the application to be refused, but eight voted that it should be accepted.

They were again asked to give reasons why they had done so, but after a conclusion was not reached it was decided that this item would be on the agenda for the next meeting in January to allow time for those who voted for it to come up with their reasons.