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Monmouthshire Politics South Wales

Claims that housing development being done ‘by stealth’

APPROVED plans for two houses in a town where there is currently a block on new housing are a “development by stealth”, it has been claimed. 

The plans for a pair of two-storey houses, both split into two parts, were approved as they are replacements for existing houses in Monmouth, where new house building is currently banned due to phosphate pollution of the river Wye. 

The new homes, in Osbaston, will be built close together on the site of a current property, Woodmancote, at Highfield Road while the applicants have also bought, and since demolished, a bungalow on the adjoining Highfield Close to create an access route. Highway officers had ruled the current access, from Highfield Road, isn’t suitable. 

The application for the replacement at Highfield Close originally included plans for a further five houses but those were dropped after the ban on house building was put in place. However the applicant’s agent has stated the scheme is intended to allow further homes to be developed when a solution for sewage discharge that adds to the phosphate pollution is in place in Monmouth. 

Both applications were recommended for approval by planning officers but went before Monmouthshire County Council’s planning committee as separate applications due to the number of objections made. 

Highfield Close resident Aled Roberts addressed the committee on behalf of a number of residents who said their cul-de-sac is too narrow for two cars to pass and unsuitable as an access to the site of the now-demolished bungalow where a private road will be built passing behind some properties on the close leading to the new homes. 

Mr Roberts said they were also concerned future plans for the site are for a “much larger scheme”. 

He said: “It is development by stealth and makes it easier for these developers to hide the true impact and fudge the issue of affordable housing and commuted sums and surely the whole point of planning is to consider the wider implications?” 

Planning agent John-Rhys Davies said the applicants had taken part in two pre-application meetings and had grown up at Woodmancote and said: “The vision for the site is for it to be sensitively developed, it is not commercially driven despite offers from developers.” 

He acknowledged the intention had been for more homes but said there would be no more than seven in total, including the replacement of Woodmancote, and his clients’ intention had been to make “a positive contribution to their hometown of Monmouth.” 

The committee was told using the existing Highfield Road access to Woodmancote would lead to the loss of trees and “significant vegetation”. 

Highways officer Mark Davies said latest Welsh Government advice is that councils should adopt all roads with more than five properties and his opinion is that the private road proposed as part of the plans wouldn’t be able to accommodate any more than five homes. 

Both applications were approved by the planning committee who also said the existing access from Highfield Road should be closed.