Dis­pute land put up for sale

Glamorgan Gazette - - News - LIZ BRADFIELD liz.bradfield@waleson­line.co.uk

A DE­VEL­OP­MENT site which was at the cen­tre of a High Court plan­ning dis­pute has been put up for sale at £525k.

The old Coed Parc Li­brary site in Park Street, Brid­gend, which in­cludes a Grade II listed main house was sold by Brid­gend County Bor­ough Coun­cil to Wales and West Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion ( WWHA) in 2012.

The site re­ceived plan­ning per­mis­sion in December 2017 for 15 homes after Wales & West’s com­mer­cial sub­sidiary, Castell Homes, ap­plied for con­sent.

But over the last year the site has been em­broiled in a dis­pute brought by res­i­dents liv­ing next door.

Last month one res­i­dent, Alistair Nel­son, took the mat­ter to Cardiff High Court ask­ing a judge for a ju­di­cial re­view to be held into the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process un­der­taken by BCBC.

Dr Nel­son ac­cused BCBC of break­ing its plan­ning rules as the two ap­pli­ca­tions associated with the site never went be­fore the lo­cal author­ity’s de­velop- ment con­trol com­mit­tee de­spite nu­mer­ous ob­jec­tions from res­i­dents liv­ing nearby in Wal­ters Street.

He also al­leged col­lu­sion be­tween plan­ning of­fi­cers and the de­vel­oper over the listed build­ing con­sent, and warned the in­tegrity of the plan­ning sys­tem in Wales was un­der­mined with the Welsh Min­is­ters “fail­ing to re­voke an un­law­ful de­ci­sion by BCBC”.

The old Coed Parc Li­brary site in­volved two plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions: one for listed build­ing con­sent to con­vert the old build­ing into two homes and one for the en­tire 15 home de­vel­op­ment.

Us­ing their pow­ers of del­e­gated author­ity, BCBC of­fi­cers re­fused the full ap­pli­ca­tion and ap­proved the listed build­ing con­sent in Au­gust 2017.

But in do­ing so, res­i­dents claimed the lo­cal author­ity “ig­nored” a pe­ti­tion signed by 26 peo­ple against the plans as well as ob­jec­tion let­ters and the views of two lo­cal county coun­cil­lors and the town coun­cil.

Res­i­dents say due to the num­ber of ob­jec­tions the ap­pli­ca­tion should have gone be­fore the coun­cil’s de­vel­op­ment con­trol com­mit­tee rather than be­ing de­cided by plan­ning of­fi­cers un­der del­e­gated author­ity. They ar­gue the re­fusal for the full ap­pli­ca­tion was based on a “weak ar­gu­ment” which, to­gether with the listed build­ing con­sent, paved the way for a plan­ning in­spec­tor to eas­ily over­turn the coun­cil’s de­ci­sion and per­mit the en­tire de­vel­op­ment as soon as Castell Homes ap­pealed.

Ear­lier this year res­i­dents turned to the Welsh Min­is­ters, via cabi­net sec­re­tary for plan­ning Les­ley Grif­fiths, to ask them to re­voke the listed build­ing con­sent, say­ing it was “il­le­gally” ap­proved by del­e­gated author­ity.

But min­is­ters re­fused say­ing the claim was “fun­da­men­tally mis­con­ceived”.

This led to the ju­di­cial re­view re­quest by Dr Nel­son who said the Welsh Min­is­ters “failed” to deal with the breach in reg­u­la­tions.

How­ever, the judge, Mrs Jus­tice An­drews, re­fused the re­quest de­spite say­ing there was a “nasty smell” about part of the process in­volv­ing the listed build­ing con­sent.

She said the listed build­ing con­sent was an­tic­i­pated by the de­vel­oper to be some­thing that would give him “a help­ing hand” when it came to the plan­ning per­mis­sion but ruled that while the con­sent “might be an im­por­tant and sig­nif­i­cant piece of back­ground in­for­ma­tion” when deal­ing with a plan­ning ap­peal it “did not di­rectly im­pact” on the is­sues raised.

She also pointed out that Welsh Govern­ment pol­icy meant a re­vo­ca­tion or­der could only ad­dress the mer­its of the de­ci­sion un­der chal­lenge rather than any “flout­ing of the plan­ning rules”.

Point­ing out “fun­da­men­tal dif­fi­cul­ties” with the ju­di­cial re­view re­quest, Mrs Jus­tice An­drews said the chal­lenge should have in­volved the plan­ning per­mis­sion for the site which in­volved the de­ci­sion on ac­cess rather than the listed build­ing con­sent.

She said: “It is true that when one seeks listed build­ing con­sent for a de­vel­op­ment, a de­sign and ac­cess state­ment is re­quired to be sup­plied, but the listed build­ing con­sent, in a case such as this at least, does not im­pact on the grant of ac­cess. It was the plan­ning per­mis­sion that did that.

“The plan­ning per­mis­sion, hav­ing been ini­tially re­fused, has nev­er­the­less now been granted and that de­ci­sion is unim­peach­able.

“It re­mains a valid grant of plan­ning per­mis­sion, in­clud­ing the grant of ac­cess, and it is there irre- spec­tive of the griev­ance of the neigh­bours.”

Res­i­dents say they have no is­sue with the de­vel­op­ment it­self but ob­ject to the plans to ac­cess 10 of the new homes by ex­tend­ing their quiet cul-de-sac, Wal­ters Road, onto the site.

They say the orig­i­nal en­trance off Park Street – the A473 – which is be­ing used for five homes should be used for all 15, high­light­ing road safety is­sues at the St Leonard’s Road/Park Street junc­tion which would be used by ve­hi­cles ac­cess­ing their homes via their cul-de-sac.

A Welsh Govern­ment spokesman said: “As a re­sult of Mrs Jus­tice An­drews’ re­fusal of the ju­di­cial re­view ap­pli­ca­tion, the Welsh Min­is­ters’ de­ci­sion of March 5, 2018 not to re­voke listed build­ing con­sent will stand.”

And a Brid­gend Coun­cil spokesman said: “The Coed Parc ap­pli­ca­tion has been pro­cessed and dealt with in full com­pli­ance with all rel­e­vant plan­ning rules and reg­u­la­tions, and is in line with na­tional and lo­cal pol­icy.”

WATTS & MOR­GAN

The Old Coed Parc li­brary site in Brid­gend

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