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Application for horse keeping and new stable block at former council farm refused

Brown horses (Pic: Alexas Fotos, Pexels)

AN APPLICATION to keep horses at a former council farm and for a new stable block to be built has been formally refused. 

Members of Monmouthshire County Council’s planning committee failed to agree on recommendations to approve the change of use application, from agricultural, and construction of a storage building and manege riding area, on the land at Fives Lanes, Caerwent when they met in October. 

At their January 10 meeting the committee was presented with three reasons to refuse the application based on their previous discussion. Councillors said it was an overdevelopment of the site and out of keeping with the open countryside and would lead to an unacceptable level of traffic detrimental to current residents and users of the existing single track lane with few passing places. 

A third reason that the development would have a “detrimental impact on the rich biodiversity of the established hedgerows and nearby woodland” wasn’t supported by the planning department, said planning officer Amy Longford. 

She warned the committee the council’s own ecologist hadn’t raised any concerns regarding ecology and said the reason for refusal was “contrary to professional advice and could potentially lead to costs being awarded against the local authority at any appeal.” 

Ms Longford said the officers advised that if the committee wished to refuse the application they should only rely on the first two reasons. 

The application had been made by Alan Connolly while Shannon Connolly, who described herself as the owner of the land, which is north west of Holly Lodge Road From A48 To Dewstow Road, addressed the committee. 

She apologised for work already carried out and said the applicants are working with the council to rectify the issues and no other work had been carried out since July, 2022 when a first enforcement notice was issued. 

Three of her horses and her donkeys she said have to be kept on “restricted grazing” due to laminitis, a painful hoof condition, and need to be supplied with a “good amount of hay”. 

Ms Connolly said: “Horses belong in the open countryside and all the land adjoining has horses and stables, including a well known racing yard.” 

A neighbour had also increased the size of their riding yard with “no objections or questions” said Ms Connolly who added the proposal is only for personal use so there would be no increase in traffic and during the three years she has owned the land said there have been no accidents on the lane. 

She said: “I can’t help but feel this is personal against me or my family and there have been false allegations, i.e we’ve had stones delivered or have added lighting since July. 

“All I’m asking for is to be treated the same as everyone else. We hope to have a positive outcome and I can bring my horses back together.” 

The committee also heard from Mike John, of Caerwent Community Council, who said it remained opposed to the application and current planning enforcement notices on a different part of the site were “the elephant in the room”. 

Local resident Roger Vasey said a petition signed by 50 residents represented 25 nearby households who had contributed financially to the professional advise they had commissioned which included an ecology report which described the council’s as “inadequate”. 

The committee moved to refuse the application without discussing the possibility of granting planning permission but Cantref Labour member Sara Burch asked for clarification they could still approve the application, which the council solicitor confirmed they could. 

The application was refused by 11 votes to one against refusal with only the reasons of over development and traffic impact adopted with the ecological objections dropped. 

Caerwent Conservative councillor Phil Murphy, who is the chair of the planning committee, took no part in the discussion as he declared a “prejudicial interest” as he said he’d been accused of “not having an open mind”. He told the October meeting posters, “purported to come from me” had been circulated in relation to a planning appeal related to the site but that he hadn’t produced the posters.