P1323/11/FUL Wye Valley Barn, The Common, Brockweir, Chepstow
Decision maker: Development Control Committee
Decision status: For Determination
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Removal of condition (01) of planning permission DF4833/J to allow use as permanent dwelling.
Please refer to the late material circulated before the start of the meeting
Principal Planning Officer, Martin Hillier, referred to the extensive planning history for the site, including the outcome of several appeals. He said that, owing to the non-viability of the holiday enterprise at the site, (and the subsequent financial losses that the applicant had reported), the current application sought to remove the planning condition that had been imposed on the original planning permission in 2008, limiting maximum occupancy of the holiday let to 4 weeks at any one time. The planning officer said that, following the council’s assessment of the business accounts for the property and the lack of objection from Gloucestershire County Highways in relation to road safety, the recommendation was one of approval. He also said that, despite objections to the loss of this important category of accommodation, the council’s Tourism (Commercial Services) Manager had recognised the feasibility of some of the viability issues that had been considered.
Speaking on behalf of residents from neighbouring properties, an objector to the application referred to: -
‘the systematic abuse of the planning permission that had been granted in 2008, resulting in a 92-signature petition, frequent referrals to the planning committee and subsequent action by the council’s enforcement team. The speaker said that, outstanding planning issues, including failure to comply with an enforcement notice in March 2008, was quite unacceptable, particularly when compared with the efficiency in which enforcement action had been taken at other locations. The speaker said that local residents had been amazed that the council would even consider such an application, especially when the applicant had failed to address outstanding material planning requirements. Expressing serious concerns about the validity of the applicant’s business accounts, the speaker said that the application was incomplete due to the un-audited accounts that had been referred to in the report not being included in the design and access statement and not being published on the council’s website. She said that it was easy to create a non-profitable business and that the claim of non-viability was unproven. Expressing concern that the application flouted the terms of the council’s tourism policy, the speaker said that to grant this application could set an extraordinary precedent by encouraging other businesses to claim non-viability and, as a consequence, result in a loss of high quality tourist accommodation. She also expressed concern about the potential for barn owners to seek residential permission for their properties using a back door approach. Questioning the need for another large property in the village, the speaker urged the committee to refuse the application and take appropriate action on any outstanding enforcement matters’.
Local member, Councillor Arthur Thomas, said that he believed the local objector had covered the majority of points supporting refusal of the application. He said that he had been amazed that the applicant had not worked more closely with the Welsh Tourist Board and that the loss of this 5 star accommodation would be of considerable detriment to the tourism industry for this area. Informing the committee that the holiday accommodation had been occupied for the four weeks over Christmas, Councillor Thomas gave a summary of the many tourist attractions that were available to the property.
The Chairman invited non-committee member, Councillor Terry Hale, to speak as a ward member for the application. Councillor Hale said that he agreed with both the sentiments of the public speaker and Councillor Thomas. He said that, whilst sympathetic with the applicant, he could have predicted that the circumstances relating to this application might occur, particularly when the property had been converted to such a grand specification. Along with several other members, Councillor Hale, expressed concern that to approve this application could set an unfavourable precedent.
The majority of members believed the loss of this high standard holiday accommodation would be disadvantageous and that three years to establish as a holiday let was insufficient testament to suggest the business was unviable.
Councillor Arthur Thomas proposed that the application be refused and Councillor Paul McMahon seconded the proposal. The reasons given for refusing the application included; the detriment to the hospitality industry; the lack of evidence to support the un-viability of the business; that the planning officers report had no record of the applicant’s audited accounts and due to disparities with national planning guidance and the District Local Plan. A recorded vote was taken and members,
RESOLVED to refuse the application for the reasons given at the meeting
Councillors James Bevan, Philip Burford, Gethyn Davies, Frankie Evans, Jackie Fraser, Terry Glastonbury, Jane Horne, Gabriella Kirkpatrick, Paul McMahon, Norman Stephens, Lynn Sterry, Arthur Thomas and David Thomson.
Publication date: 18/05/2012
Date of decision: 10/01/2012
Decided at meeting: 10/01/2012 - Development Control Committee