Dispute land put up for sale
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.”
The Old Coed Parc library site in Bridgend