Home » Planning appeal for 300 homes in Cefn Fforest, Caephilly, still awaiting decision 
Caerphilly Politics South Wales

Planning appeal for 300 homes in Cefn Fforest, Caephilly, still awaiting decision 

Grove Park (pic: Roy Williams)

THE WELSH Government has refused to confirm when a decision will be made on a planning appeal for 300 homes in Cefn Fforest.

Independent councillor Kevin Etheridge is against the development and said residents have been in “limbo” for too long. He added: “The delay is unacceptable and is a constant worry to my residents in Blackwood.”

Cllr Kevin Etheridge

Persimmon Homes’ original planning application was presented to Caerphilly County Borough Council’s planning committee in October 2018. Since then it has been to the Welsh Government, the High Court and back, without a decision.

How did we get here?

The development of 300 homes on a greenfield site was recommended for approval by planning officers, but it was refused by planning committee members.

Developer Persimmon still wanted to build a mixture of two, three and four bedroom houses, including 75 affordable homes in the Blackwood ward. The housebuilding company appealed the committee’s decision.

The appeal went to the Welsh Government, and the Planning Inspectorate report recommended Persimmon’s plans be approved, but the then Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James MS disagreed, and rejected the plans on October 21, 2020.

This went against the advice of the report and meant the case ended up at the High Court when Persimmon went to judicial review. It was a legal battle the Welsh Government decided wasn’t worth fighting and conceded defeat.

Therefore, the decision by Julie James MS was overturned by the courts, and the case has now been passed back to Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW) for redetermination.

When asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service for a decision date on the redetermination, Welsh Government refused to comment.

“Uncaring approach”

Cllr Etheridge, who represents Blackwood, said: “I asked for a meeting with the Minister Julie James, told no. I asked for a meeting with the Planning Inspector who visited the site for 20 minutes, and was told no.

“I am very disappointed in what seems to be an uncaring approach.”

He added that Minister Julie James should resign from her role if plans were approved.

Roy Williams, who lives in Grove Park, has spoken against the application since it was first submitted.

Mr Williams said: “Nothing has changed – not to the infrastructure, not to the schools, not to the roads, since it was refused by the committee and the minister. What is democracy if elected councillors have said no and two years later here we are.

“If councillors or the housing minister can’t make the decision, why do we vote and why do we pay our taxes?”

Blackwood councillor Nigel Dix has previously said: “The Minster’s previous reason for rejecting Persimmon’s appeal to build 300 houses on land outside the LDP are as poignant and relevant as ever – nothing has changed.

Cllr Nigel Dix

“Elected members and residents are hoping the Minister will show courage and consistency in the decision making process and reject Persimmon’s application. Caerphilly has numerous brownfield sites with a capacity to accommodate thousands of houses, which the minister has acknowledged in her previous reason for rejecting the application.”

Cllr Dix continued: “Our green fields are needed more than ever – the Welsh Government often proclaims it wants to protect our environment and it now has an opportunity to demonstrate that they actually mean what they say.

“The people will be watching.”

Redetermination progress so far

PEDW started the redetermination process on February 22, last year, and all interested parties – those who submitted representations previously or were involved with the inquiry – were given the opportunity to submit any further representations.

All representations were exchanged and final comments were made in April last year. This concluded the submissions of written evidence for the redetermination.

A Planning Inspector visited the site in May last year.