Planning inspector allows housing development in St Fagans conservation area

July 16, 2012 No Comments »

Plans to build almost 80 new homes in a Cardiff conservation area will be allowed to go ahead, despite being thrown out by Cardiff Council last year.

Developer Charles Church was refused outline planning permission by Cardiff Council in November for a development of 79 houses on 10 acres of land at Michaelston Road, St Fagans, on the grounds that the development was within the St Fagans conservation area, would break guidelines protecting the countryside, and detract from the area’s visual appearance.

But Charles Church appealed the decision, prompting a five-day public inquiry, and Welsh Assembly planning inspector Rebecca Phillips has now decided to overturn the council’s original decision, giving outline permission for the housing development.

Ms Phillips cited Cardiff’s lack of a local development plan (LDP) in the reasons for her decision to overturn the council’s ruling, saying the city has a “significant shortage of land supply”.

An LDP sets out how the city will develop and grow socially, economically and environmentally over the next 16 years, and designates specific green spaces or areas of significance to remain as free from development as possible.

Cardiff’s last proposed LDP was withdrawn in 2010 after concerns about the council’s policy not to allocate any greenfield sites for development. Cardiff’s only working development plan dates back to 1996.

Ms Phillips also said the development would not be harmful to the landscape or visual features of the countryside, that proposals would in fact “preserve and enhance” features such as mature headgrerows and trees, and that the 79 houses would make a “notable contribution to the city’s identified housing need”. She said:

“Given my conclusions that the proposal would preserve the conservation area, these considerations, together with the significant shortage of land supply, the acknowledged need for family housing and the likely timescale for the production of the LDP provide compelling grounds to allow the appeal and I afford them considerable weight.”

Savills, who acted on behalf of Charles Church and Harvington Properties in the case, said the development of 79 family homes will include 16 affordable homes, and financial contributions towards existing affordable housing stock in the area, highways improvements, educational facilities and a local neighbourhood regeneration scheme.

The statement added that the development will create 120 construction jobs, and allow six acres of land “currently affected by trespass, vandalism and other anti-social behaviour” to be turned into an “enhanced public space”.

Andrew Crompton, regional land director for Charles Church, said: “We had patiently pursued the site through the development plan process but after the council had twice failed to produce a new plan, we committed to pursue an application. Unfortunately the council rejected this as a matter of principle which led to us lodging an appeal. We are delighted to have secured permission and look forward to delivering much needed family housing.”

But Counillor Ralph Cook, Cardiff Council’s cabinet member for planning, warned the Michaelston Road decision threatened to set a precedent and would invite developers to submit bids to build on other unprotected fields.

“The reason we are in this situation is the previous administration resolutely stuck to a position that was not acceptable, leaving us in a totally indefensible position,” he said. “We have to get down and make some difficult decisions to get the LDP through a process that is sound so that we can then use it to ensure development is progressed in a logical, structured way.”

Coun Cook’s comments came as he unveiled the local authority’s new draft LDP preferred strategy, showing where the Labour-controlled council believes major new housing and employment sites can be built.

The document revealed the authority believes the greenbelt on the north-east and north-west fringes need to be developed to meet the city’s booming population, which is expected to swell 26% to 408,000 by 2026.

To the north west, a new 7,500-home suburb west of Pentrebane would be created. And to the north east, some 8,000 homes would be designated either side of Pontprennau.

Other greenfield space slated for development include:

  • About 2,000 homes north of Junction 33 of the M4;
  • 750 homes on land south of Creigiau;
  • 700 homes on the former Arjo Wiggins Works in Ely;
  • 600 homes at the former Gas Works on Ferry Road in Grangetown.

The LDP, which will be adopted in October 2015, will act as a guiding framework for development of Cardiff up to 2026, setting out where planning permission is likely to be granted.

More details of the draft LDP can be found here and the planning inspector’s full report into the Michaelston Road development read below.
Michaelston Road Decision

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