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Planning dispute over timber decking in Trevethin resolved

A view of the pergola that has to be removed from the front garden of a house (Pic: Torfaen County Borough Council planning file)

MORE than half of an area of timber decking covering the front garden of a flat for nearly six years will have to removed after a council probe. 

Officers from Torfaen Borough Council have been in discussions with homeowner Leon Yemm since 2018 over the seven-metre long and nine metre-wide decking he laid in front of his flat at Elm Close in Trevethin, Pontypool, in July that year. 

Following an enforcement investigation, the council and Mr Yemm have this month agreed a reduced area of the decking can be retained, but a pergola, wooden posts and beams at the front area of the decking, will have to be removed. 

The council said it served an enforcement notice in July 2022, after failing to conclude negotiations with Mr Yemm, as it feared the decking would become lawful as developments can be exempt from enforcement action after four years. 

As a result it has been agreed the decking will be reduced to only that which extends to 3.8m from the front of the flat, it will remain 9.7m wide, which is most of the width of the property. 

It will be enclosed with ranch-style fencing and access will remain from a small gate on the side. 

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The pergola, wooden posts, at the front of this decking will have to removed along with most of the decking in front of the first post nearest to the property (Pic: Torfaen County Borough Council planning file)

Torfaen council received four comments in support of Mr Yemm’s application, and he said having spoken with his neighbours “everyone” backed retaining the decking and some were willing to make “written declarations” of their support if required. 

One objection was received which described the decking as an “environmental eyesore” and said there was “nothing similar in Trevethin” and it was “morally wrong” to apply for planning permission post development. 

Planning officer Gemma Evans said there is a presumption that development to aid the enjoyment of a house is allowed but the impact on the character and appearance of the area and neighbours must be considered along with any biodiversity enhancements. 

She said as the gardens on that side of Elm Close are elevated above the road they are visually prominent. 

But she said the removal of the pergola and the reduction in the area covered by the decking along with the sloping nature of the land, which means it will be only 0.5m higher than the ground level, and that it would be set back meant it wouldn’t appear “unduly prominent”. 

A condition will require a woodstone nest bird box is installed in the back garden to meet biodiversity requirements.