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Community left reeling after Minister overturns Council decision to refuse 186 Redrow Homes development in Flintshire

Redrow Homes has won an appeal against Flintshire County Council who had refused the Ewloe based housing developer permission to build a 186 homes on land off Chester Road in Penyffordd.

The house builder applied to build a mix of 2, 3 and 4 bedroom detached, semi-detached and mews ‘Heritage Collection’ properties on open countryside.

There’s been fierce objections to the development from Penyffordd Community Council, local councillors and nearly 800 residents, two Flintshire politicians Mark Tami MP and Mark Isherwood AM also raised issue with the plans.

Flintshire County Council refused the application for the development back in April 2017 on the grounds the site was located outside the Penyffordd and Penymynydd Settlement boundary and the need for a housing supply “did not outweigh the harm that would arise from the detrimental impact of such a scale of development would have upon the cohesiveness of the community.”

Redrow appealed against the council planners decision and the application was referred to Welsh Ministers for consideration.

The Welsh Government appointed planning inspector Joanne Burston to review Redrow’s application, a three day public inquiry was took place late last year – it heard from barristers, experts, councillors and members of the community.

Ms Burston reported her findings back to Welsh Government minister and Wrexham AM Lesley Griffiths who sided with the inspector and backed the Redrow planning application.

Ms Burston concluded the village could sustain any amount of growth from the proposed new development, and whilst acknowledging the development would cause harm the local  landscape character the need houses was a more pressing issue.

The Inspector found that despite community concerns the development would not adversely affect ‘social cohesion’ in the village.

The Inspector dismissed fears that more houses would put a strain on school places and the ability to get a doctors appointments as neither the education authority or health authority had objected to the development.

“Our village will suffer forever as a consequence of this decision, and public faith in the whole planning system and local democracy has gone too.” – Cllr Alan Wight.

Local Councillor Cindy Hinds said she was “absolutely gutted” at the decision:

“Our village is overcrowded at the moment never mind adding 186 more houses, 90 of which are 4-bedroomed.  This is not for our young people, they have to move away because what Redrow are building are mainly the more expensive houses which accommodates for the residents from Cheshire than in our area.”

Cllr Hinds added:

“I am so annoyed after all the hard work the community put in with Community Councillors, County Councillors and the residents attending public meetings and also the Planning Officers all going against it and yet Welsh Government dismiss our comments.”

At the heart of the issue is the Welsh Government planning policy known as TAN1 which allows housing developers to overturn rejected applications for new developments.

TAN1 requires each local planning authority in Wales to ensure that sufficient land is genuinely available or will become available to provide a 5 year supply of land for housing.

Local authorities have to demonstrate they have a five-year housing land supply which Flintshire is unable to do.

This has resulted in a number of planning applications and enquiries for speculative developments on sites outside settlement boundaries

The Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths announced a consultation and review of the TAN1 policy on May 10 – just two weeks before announcing her decision on the Redrow development in Penyffordd.

The review will look to suspend and remove paragraph (6.2) of the policy which puts “considerable” weight to the lack of a 5-year housing land supply – a change which would stem the flow speculative planning applications from developers targeting many parts of Flintshire including Buckley, Broughton, Drury, Kinnerton and Penyffordd.

Lesley Griffiths AM said the move to suspend part of the TAN 1 : “will help alleviate some of the immediate pressures on local planning authorities when dealing with speculative planning applications for housing.”

Alan Wight, Penyffordd Community Councillor has been left angry at the timing of the consultation, he said:

“I think I speak for many in the community when I say that we are angry that the Minister has recognised the failings of the TAN1 policy in allowing speculative development in the countryside, and has opened a consultation about it just before announcing this (Redrow development in Penyffordd) decision.

Ironically, as a consequence of pressure from communities like ours, local planning authorities and local councillors across Wales, it looks likely that TAN1 – the single badly conceived clause in planning policy Wales that allows Redrow and others to build wherever they like – will be suspended after a consultation ending on the 22 June.

There is a clear warning here for every community in Wales, and particularly in Flintshire – the more resilient you are as a community, the more housing the Government believe you can sustain.”

Cllr Wight added:

“Penyffordd is already the community in Flintshire with the highest growth in the last 10 years, this decision will make it the highest by some margin –

A statement on the Penyffordd Community website, a group set up to fight against the overdevelopment of the village, says:

‘What happens Next? Our options are limited but we can call for a Judicial Review and take the decision to the High Court. We are seeking legal advice right now and we have 6 weeks to act. 

Otherwise we can expect Redrow to start work very quickly, given the preparations they made to stop birds nesting.’

Andrew Farrow, Flintshire County Council Chief Officer Planning, Environment and Economy said;

“We are aware of the outcome of the appeal and are currently considering the detail of the report.”

 

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