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BLAENAU GWENT: Planning appeal lost

BLAENAU GWENT: Planning appeal lost

Image: Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

UNREPENTANT councillors have criticised a planning inspector who overturned a “democratic” decision to reject an application for a care home extension in Tredegar.

Shaw Healthcare wanted to build a five bedroom, two-storey supported living unit on land next to their 24-bed care home at Maes y Dderwen in the town.

The application had been rejected by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s planning committee back in April.

At the time, the committee believed the extension would cause highway issues as it would generate more demand for parking in an area that already has a lack of space.

The healthcare firm appealed – and a letter from the planning inspectorate overturning the committee’s decision, and granting planning permission, was received by the council in September.

At the planning committee’s meeting on Thursday, October 14, councillors discussed the report.

There were told that the council is liable for Shaw Healthcare’s appeal costs for “in the region” of £9,000.

Cllr Bernard Willis said: “This is the view of one person against 15 members of this committee, that know the area.”

Cllr Tommy Smith said: “I’m disappointed with this decision, I strongly disagree with the inspector.

“I still maintain my previous concerns (parking) that were raised at that planning meeting.

“Local democracy has been overturned once again, by the planning inspectorate a body with no links to our community or residents, I believe it’s only going to put further strain on our services and police to manage the site.”

Cllr Lisa Winnett added that planning inspectors “don’t always” get decisions right.

The council’s planning services development manager Steve Smith confirmed that officers had not submitted a defence of the refusal.

He said that councillors had been invited to make a case, but none did.

The inspector based his decision on the documentation and minutes from the meeting on April 15.

Mr Smith said: “The planning inspector disagreed with the planning committee on just about all the reasons given for refusal.

“It’s fine for members to disagree with planning officers but the key point is evidence.

“What was put forward was opinion with no evidence.

“There are some important points we can pick out from the inspectors’ decision for the committee to bear in mind – where we are refusing planning permission, not only must we base that refusal on legitimate planning reasons but have evidence ready to back it up.”

The committee noted the report.

Planning inspector J.P Tudor said in his report on the application: “I appreciate that some members of the local community will be disappointed by my decision.

“However, planning law requires that proposals for planning permission must
be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material
considerations indicate otherwise.

“Overall, I have not found that the proposed development would cause significant identifiable harm or be contrary to the local development plan.”

On the costs order application Mr Tudor said: “I find that unreasonable behaviour resulting in unnecessary expense, has been demonstrated and that a full award of costs is justified.”

Words: Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

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