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Conwy defer 15 holiday lodges plans following ‘flawed’ council report

Conwy County Council

A PLANNING application for 15 timber holiday lodges at Tal y Bont was deferred after Conwy’s officers said a solicitor’s letter from an objector had described council reports as flawed.

Applicant Peter Davidson applied to Conwy’s planning department, seeking permission for a change of use of Tyn Terfyn Caravan Site on Llanrwst Road, Tal-y-Bont.

Mr Davidson wanted permission for 15 timber holiday lodges, but the application was partly retrospective, following three lodges already being built and another five being in construction.

Planning officers had advised the committee to grant the application, despite several residents writing in objection to the plans.

Residents argued the lodges were ‘ugly’ and out of character, ruining views of the Conwy Valley, and would cause disturbance to neighbours.

But planning officers changed their advice from ‘minded to grant’ to ‘defer’.

Head of planning Paula Jones explained the planning report had been described as flawed by an objector’s solicitor.

“The objector’s solicitor considers that there is no lawful use of the site and hence no fallback, and therefore, they consider that the assessment of the planning committee report is legally flawed,” she said.

“Another part of their assessment refers to the assessment of housing policies and the fact that they don’t consider that it is covered adequately in the report. As a result, they consider that the officers’ report is materially flawed and vulnerable to judicial review.”

She added: “Officers feel they need further time to consider this and therefore we’ve changed our recommendation, and we are asking members to defer consideration to enable further consideration of the lawful planning status.”

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Ms Jones then revealed that Cllr Goronwy Edwards had asked when the matter would be brought back to committee, but she said planning officers needed time to fully consider the concerns raised.

Cllr Alan Hunter proposed councillors deferred the application in line with officers’ advice, and this was seconded by Cllr Jo Nuttall and voted through.

Cllr David Carr disagreed with the council bowing to the letter.

“I think anyone can say we will go to judicial review. If we’ve decided to go and discuss this today, although I’m not going to vote against the deferral, we should be mindful of the fact we have our own processes,” he said.

“Obviously people who can object to things can say this will go to judicial review. We don’t know whether it would or it wouldn’t. But we need to be mindful of the fact we are here to make decisions.”

Before the vote went through, though, the hybrid online meeting ground to a complete halt with officers and councillors speaking off-camera, despite the meeting being public.

The oddity occurred when Cllr Goronwy Edwards was told he couldn’t ask a question under committee rules, or else waive his right to appear as a speaker against the development at a future debate.

Chairman Cllr Austin Roberts denied Cllr Edwards permission to speak but appeared to make an exception for the cabinet member when he allowed planning officers and Cllr Edwards to speak off camera whilst the chamber was silent.

At no point was a resolution made and voted through to exclude the press and public, yet both were excluded from the private conversation.

The planning application will be discussed at a future planning committee meeting.

A spokesperson for Conwy County Council said: “The speakers chose not to speak at Wednesday’s meeting because the recommendation was to defer the application.

“Non-committee members are required to submit any questions prior to the meeting, so when the councillor had a question it couldn’t be included in the committee’s debate and was dealt with separately.

“When speaking to the committee, the development and building control manager referred to the councillor’s query and advised the date when the application would return could not be confirmed at that point as officers needed time to consider the representation that had been made.”

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