Plans to build almost 80 new homes in a Cardiff conservation area would introduce “suburban character into a rural area”, a public inquiry has been told.
Developer Charles Church was refused outline planning permission by Cardiff council last year for a development of 79 houses on 10 acres of land at Michaelston Road in St Fagans.
The plans were refused on the grounds the development would break guidelines protecting the countryside, detract from the visual appearance of the land, and because it is within the St Fagans conservation area.
There were also concerns from residents over increased levels of traffic and damage to the historic character of the area.
But Charles Church has appealed the decision of the council’s planning committee and today, on the first day of a five-day public inquiry, the developer’s representative Morag Ellis QC said the site in St Fagans suffered from “classic signs of urban fringe”, and that the character of the site would actually decline if nothing was done.
In her opening statement, Ms Ellis said Cardiff suffered from an acute housing shortage – particularly family housing.
She drew attention to the fact that Cardiff has no local development plan, adding that the proposed scheme on Michaelston Road offered an opportunity to address the city’s housing problem caused by the “long term development plan vacuum”.
Ms Ellis said 20 per cent of the planned houses would be affordable homes, and that Charles Church would enter into an agreement to provide cash for more affordable housing elsewhere in Cardiff.
But Melissa Murphy, speaking on behalf of the council, told planning inspector Rebecca Phillips that the authority’s refusal of the plans was “well founded”, arguing that the developer had “downplayed” the significant harm that would be caused by putting 79 new homes on to a rural landscape.
She said: “The evidence demonstrates that the proposal fails to conserve the conservation area.”
Giving evidence for the council, landscape architect Peter McComiskey argued that Charles Church – part of the Persimmon group – had not properly considered the “sensitivity” of the landscape and the effects the proposed development would have.
He said that the rural landscape contributed to the area’s historic character, so the loss of open fields would have an “adverse effect” on that.
He said: “It would clearly introduce a suburban character into what is a rural landscape.”
Mr McComiskey also discussed the effect the plans would have on views from the homes of people living in the area, walkers and visitors travelling to the nearby St Fagans National History Museum.
Discussing the view from properties on St Fagans Drive, he said: “One of the great advantages of that as an area to live is the view out. It would have an adverse effect on them.”
The inquiry will continue for a second day tomorrow.