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Monmouthshire Politics South Wales

Retired veteran allowed to remain at rented home in Bryn y Fro at Newchurch, Devauden

The entrance to Old Road and Bryn Y Fro at Newchurch, Devauden (Pic: Google)

A RETIRED veteran will be allowed to remain in the bungalow he has lived in for more than 10 years after his tenancy was put at risk due to red tape. 

Duncan Powell has lived at his rented home, Bryn y Fro at Newchurch, Devauden, since September 2012 – but his right to remain there was threatened due to the discovery of a planning condition dating back 31 years. 

That stipulated the bungalow could only be occupied by an agricultural or forestry worker, their dependents, or the widow or widower of any such worker. The 1992 condition put the retired armed forces veteran’s tenancy at risk as he has never worked in forestry or agriculture. 

As a result Mr Powell’s landlords, sisters E Nash and L M Davies of Chepstow, had to ask Monmouthshire County Council to grant a certificate stating the use of the bungalow is lawful. 

Mrs Nash, Mr Powell and the sisters’ uncle, who rents related farmland, all provided statutory declarations in relation to the tenancy agreements. 

As well as supplying a copy of the agreement with Mr Powell, showing it dated back to September 2012, the sisters also outlined how the property, built by their late father, had been let on a short term basis for six months from February 2012 following his death in October 2011. 

The application, submitted by estate agents David James on behalf of the sisters, said the certificate should be granted as, although the condition restricting occupation had been breached, the breach has been continuous for more than 10 years and is therefore exempt from any enforcement action. 

Monmouthshire County Council planners accepted the property has been let to Mr Powell for more than 10 years and issued the certificate of lawfulness. The council would have had to have evidence contradicting or undermining the applicants’ “unambiguous” evidence to challenge their position. 

In February this year the council said it would continue to defend planning conditions dating back decades after a decision to refuse to issue a certificate of lawfulness was defeated in part due to a legal case brought by former US president Donald Trump. 

The council had, in 2021, told Chepstow woman Angela Corner it wouldn’t issue her such a certificate for a bungalow named Grove View on Bully Hole Road in Shirenewton, due to a 1966 planning condition restricting its occupation to forestry or agricultural workers. 

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But she appealed the decision to Planning and Environment Decisions Wales citing a case brought by the former US president’s Trump International Golf Club Scotland in Aberdeen in which the UK Supreme Court highlighted the importance of what a “reasonable reader” would understand words in a public document to mean. 

As a result the planning inspector found the 1966 condition was flawed and issued the certificate to Ms Corner. 

Monmouthshire council planning officer Phil Thomas later told the council’s planning committee it still intended to defend similar cases in the future. 

He said the council’s position is it should maintain a stock of lower cost housing for those in rural enterprises and that while its own modern conditions are more tightly worded it has defended the principle of older conditions in the past and they are sometimes replaced by planning inspectors with updated conditions. 

Mr Thomas said: “We won’t necessarily give up on these older conditions where we are confronted with either a removal of them, or a certificate of lawfulness (application), we will seek to see whether we can get the modern condition imposed bearing in mind other inspectors have gone along with that approach.”