Failure of St Fagans housing appeal ‘would be harmful’ to the area, inquiry told

May 17, 2012 No Comments »

The failure of an appeal by developers who want to build 79 houses in a Cardiff conservation area would be “harmful” to the surrounding countryside, a public inquiry has been told.

Developer Charles Church was refused planning permission last year for 79 houses on 10 acres of land off Michaelston Road, St Fagans, on grounds the scheme would break guidelines designed to protect the countryside, and detract from the land’s visual appearance.

But Charles Church is appealing the decision of Cardiff council’s planning committee, and on the third day of a public inquiry today said the appeal’s failure could be detrimental to  St Fagans.

The hearing was told earlier this week that the Michaelston Road site has suffered from the effects of “urban fringe”, including littering.

Today landscape architect Duncan McInerney, giving evidence on behalf of Charles Church, was asked by the developer’s representative Morgan Ellis QC what would happen to the land if the appeal was turned away.

Mr McInerney replied: “It will continue to diminish in character and quality. It will change. It will be harmful to the interests of the other landscapes and the conservation area.

“It is already in decline, and would be lost entirely. No one is going to replace trees, horse chestnuts for example, unless it is part of a comprehensive suite of proposals for the land.”

He added: “What we have to do is halt and reverse this cycle of decline by investing in the landscape and that investment in my experience changes hearts and minds. It’s more likely to be respected.”

He said the land developer had tried to use the land for agriculture for 27 years between 1975 and 2002, but had “simply run out of options”.

Mr McInerney also said the fact that the site had not been developed previously was “as much to do with the fact Cardiff has failed to progress its planning duty in the last 15 years as anything else”.

He said: “The assessment of the impact of this scheme has to be weighed against the need for housing.”

But under cross-examination by the council’s representative Melissa Murphy, Mr McInerney conceded that three different independent consultants over 13 years had concluded that the site should be part of land designated as a special landscape area.

The inquiry continues tomorrow.

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