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New lower speed limit overturns council’s refusal for new home in Chepstow

An artist's impression of how the new house planned for Hardwick Hill, and which has been allowed on appeal, could look (Pic: Monmouthshire County Council planning file)

WALES’ new lower residential speed limit has been credited with overturning a council’s refusal for a new home on a busy main road. 

The application for a modern three-storey house on an “infill” plot of land between two existing houses on Hardwick Hill, Chepstow, was rejected by Monmouthshire County Council’s planning committee in October 2022. 

At the time planning officers said, although there was no objection in principle to the development in the Georgian conservation area, it had to be refused as the Welsh Government objected as the existing vehicle access to the field, which would also serve the new house, is from Hardwick Hill, which forms part of the A48 trunk road and is the main road into Chepstow. 

But applicants, the owners of Hardwick Cottage, appealed to Planning and Environment Decisions Wales and an independent inspector said the new lower 20mph speed limit, introduced in September last year, meant the road safety objections were no longer valid. 

This is the entrance that will be used for the proposed new house on Hardwick Hill, Chepstow (Pic: Monmouthshire County Council planning file)

Anthony Thickett, who visited the site in December, said in his report the Welsh Government highways department had objected based on national design standards related to vehicles travelling at 30mph or faster. 

However Mr Thickett noted: “The speed limit when the appeal application was refused was 30mph, it is now 20mph.” 

He said it is accepted vehicle movements will increase as a result of the development, but said the new 20mph limit meant vehicles could easily meet the required stopping distance and drivers exiting the entrance will have better visibility in both directions. 

The report stated: “In these circumstances, insisting on a higher standard is unreasonable and unjustified. I conclude that the proposed development would not have an adverse impact on highway safety and complies with policy.” 

The decision was reported to councillors at their January planning meeting and council planning officer Phil Thomas told the committee: “Much emphasis has been put on the reduced 20mph limit and the need for lower visibility splays and they can now meet these on this access. 

“If it had been 30mph we don’t know if it would be the same decision.” 

Wysham independent councillor Emma Bryn said: “I wouldn’t want to pull off a drive there, it’s very busy.” 

Committee chairman, Caerwent Conservative Phil Murphy, reminded councillors they had considered the application before the 20mph limit had been introduced. 

Inspector Mr Thickett refused the applicants any costs as though they had indicated they intended seeking them from the council they had only supplied their architect and highways consultant’s fees without any supporting information.  

Costs are only awarded where unreasonably behaviour resulted in wasted or unnecessary expense and as no such argument was put forward Mr Thickett said he considered no application had been made.