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Pembrokeshire Politics West Wales

Couple can stay in home after agriculture worker condition removed

Outside Pembrokeshire County Council's County Hall, Haverfordwest

A CALL to remove an agricultural worker-only condition from a south Pembrokeshire couple’s home has been given the go-ahead by county planners.

In an application considered by Pembrokeshire County council’s planning committee at its April 23 meeting, John Williams of Woodside, Martletwy had applied for the residency condition to be lifted, which members were recommended to approve.

Mr Williams and his wife Catherine have lived at the property since December 1986, the dwelling granted outline planning permission in April 1985.

This was subject to an agricultural occupancy condition, in association with nearby Baglan Farm, which was previously owned and managed by Mr Williams’ parents, now both deceased.

A complication had developed after Mr Williams, a former farm worker, had been later employed in other trades, leaving the couple in breach of that condition for more than a decade.

Back in February, planners agreed to a certificate of lawfulness, entailing proof of occupancy over a period in excess of 10 years, overcoming the breach, which allowed the couple to stay at their home of many years.

Since that successful certificate, an application for the formal removal of the condition was submitted to the April committee, a report for planners stating: “The [certificate] was granted as it had been demonstrated on the balance of probability that the required timescale of at least 10 years had elapsed.

“As such, this application relies on the argument that the condition does not now meet the tests prescribed [for planning conditions] as it is no longer enforceable and should be removed.

“The certificate is unfettered and is a material consideration of substantial weight given the benefits it provides would be transferable to any subsequent occupiers.

“Accordingly, the condition is not enforceable as long as the subject dwelling remains occupied by the existing or any subsequent occupiers that do not meet the requirements of the condition that this application seeks to remove.

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“It is possible for the property to be occupied in breach of the condition by any non-qualifying person in perpetuity.  Whilst it is theoretically possible that a future purchaser might comply with the occupancy condition, meaning that the certificate would fall away, the consequences of such an action would result in a loss of upwards of 30 per cent of the value of the property.

“The very low likelihood of this course of action is such that the fall-back position associated with the certificate is a material consideration sufficient to outweigh the conflict with planning policy.”

Planners unanimously backed the condition being removed.