HIGH DEMAND: Bosses dismiss concerns about building houses on ‘brownfield’ village green
A computer-generated image of what the houses would look like, Image: Tony King Architects
Council bosses have dismissed concerns about building houses on a village green in the Vale of Glamorgan, highlighting the high local demand for social housing.
Vale of Glamorgan council wants to build four houses and six flats on a plot of land north of Maes-y-Ffynnon in the village of Bonvilston.
But the plans have been opposed by local residents, the local community council, and the council’s own planning committee.
On Monday, September 27, the council’s cabinet signed off plans to appeal to the Welsh Government against the planning committee’s delay in deciding whether to approve permission.
During the cabinet meeting, Councillor Margaret Wilkinson, cabinet member for housing and building services, said: “These much needed new council homes include older person’s accommodation in the Wenvoe ward. There are 196 people wanting to live around the Wenvoe area and in the Wenvoe ward, and this [scheme] is in the Wenvoe ward.”
Council leader Neil Moore added: “This is 10 much-needed council homes on a former disused garage site. It has gone to planning twice with a recommendation for approval, and it has been rejected but with no planning reason why to reject it. If there were a planning reason to reject it, then I would look at it differently.”
The plans first came to the planning committee in July last year, but a decision was delayed as residents had applied to legally register the land as a ‘village green’, affording it extra protection from development. However, the village green application was later rejected in an inquiry held by an independent barrister, for technical legal reasons.
James Marwick, the barrister, said villagers have been using the green “by right” rather than “as of right”, meaning the council gave them permission to use the land. He also argued the site had been legally designated for housing since the 1950s, when the land was bought by the former Cardiff Rural District Council and the existing houses on Maes-Y-Ffynnon were built.
Following the legal ruling to dismiss the village green application, the council said it would be inaccurate to refer to the site as a ‘village green’. However, local residents continue to do so.
After the application to register the site as a village green was dismissed, the plans went back to the planning committee in September this year. Councillors on the committee voted against approving the scheme, but could not agree on a proper reason to refuse permission, and so voted to again defer it. The council’s housing department is now appealing that delay.
Deputy leader Lis Burnett said: “We are talking about a brownfield site here, and we are talking about the site of disused garages, for 10 units. It’s what they call a pepperpot or pocket development within a community, on a brownfield site. This is exactly the right action for us to take.”
The plot of land is technically a ‘brownfield site’ — a planning term meaning an area that has been previously built on — because a small section used to have five garages, which have since been knocked down. That section has been replaced with hardstanding, but the rest of the green area remains unchanged, according to local residents.
Ian Perry, chair of the St Nicholas with Bonvilston community council, said: “It has been used as a village green for 70 years, somewhere for children to go and play or adults to meet, socialise and hold events. It still remains a village green. Calling it otherwise is just wrong.
“Where the garages were is now hardstanding parking, but that’s just a small little area. The village green was there before the garages were. There’s a huge amount of green space, there’s space for children to play or kick a ball around, and it’s a beautiful open area. The community would love to own that land and improve it.”
Words: Alex Seabrook, Local Demcoracy Reporter
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