Thursday, 17 January 2013

Another planning problem...

I am approached by many residents of the county who have had a bad experience with Carmarthenshire Council's planning, in their own words, is another one;
"Carmarthenshire planners are refusing to enforce what they have stated in writing are breaches of its planning guidance.
Here is a picture of a fence being created adjacent to a Grade II listed building. It is more than 2m in height, standing at more than 3m in the neighbouring garden. It looks ludicrous: two fences in one garden.
However, rather than telling the owners of the second fence to take it down, planners have said the breach is 'not expedient to pursue'.

The property lies in a conservation area and in the curtilage, formerly the garden, of the listed building.
Here's what Carmarthenshire Council's website says of conservation areas and listed buildings:

 Curtilage and Setting

Although some ancillary buildings and structures will be considered to fall squarely within the "curtilage" of a listed building (whether specifically mentioned in the Statutory List or not), other developments may be considered to affect its "setting". "Setting" may be affected, for example, by proposals for free standing buildings within garden-ground, alterations to walls or approaches, sightliness to or from the building and associated landscaping. A consent, or permission, may be required in these instances.

It goes on:

You will need consent for:

Where your proposal does not directly affect the Listed building but is close enough to potentially affect the 'setting' of a listed building. Your proposal may need to be sympathetically altered to suit the circumstances.....

The problem has arisen where the owner of the new development has created a new ground level, on a raft foundation -all approved by the authority, even though no side elevation drawings have ever been submitted to show this new level. (This has been established via a request under the Freedom of Information Act)

It raises serious questions as to why the council is allowing the breaches - which are clearly to the detriment of the property which the authority itself chose to list for conservation!

The tragic irony is that the very same listed building is not allowed to have double glazed windows or doors because the extra 4mm of glass would affect its character, even though that would ensure a hugely more energy efficient home. 
To rub salt into the wound, they have stated that the owners of the listed building will need planning permission to create a fence to hide this one (all at their own expense and not mention the obvious breaches of guidance relating to a listed building)."
As for listed buildings, readers may remember the council's relentless pursuit through various courts of Mr Humphries of Felin Wen who had carefully removed some dangerous machinery from his mill, whilst, at the same time they approved the restrospective flattening of another one a couple of miles away, where they had, it turned out, acted unlawfully. As for enforcement, you might remember BBC Wales This Week back in October. Repeated calls over the last few years by local politicians for ministers in Cardiff to take a closer look at planning in Carmarthenshire have continued to fall on deaf, or reluctant, ears.

Of course many residents who are at the sadly inevitable 'banging head against brick wall' stage with Carmarthenshire planners say that the department appears to make up the rules as it goes along....and by the look of this from the Council website, it certainly seems to have developed its very own language......

I have recently learned that the Ombudsman, who is being kept very busy with our local authority, has decided to investigate Carmarthenshire Council with regards to the 'Magnolia Monstrosity' affair, I believe it is still in the early stages and preliminary enquiries are underway.


Patricia B. said...

A response from Carl Sargeant, following a request for a meeting on the dire failings of this department says "John Griffiths A.M. has previously advised that the Ombudsman's report refers to a specific case and does not suggest there is an underlying issue with the general service provided by the council's planning department"

a. I call that passing the buck.
b. Given the expose on my case,uncovering years of persistent failings, I think anyone would realise there are very serious issues within this department.
c. Carl Sargeant knows full well that the Ombudsman can only look for and find 'maladministration'.
d. Carl Sargeant knows this to be so. I shouldn't have to point this out to him.

The big question is why won't he meet with me?

If my former M.P. who is now a Cabinet Minister is happy to meet with me and has done so in the past, why won't Carl Sargeant??

I believe it is is obvious!!

Anonymous said...

I understand that in relation to the Breckman case, the Ombudsman is still unhappy with the council's compliance with his recommendations, including the recommended apology.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Jacqui but was that a slip of the pen or did you mean to write .... Another hanging?

Anonymous said...

Why is nobody doing anything about the Council's behaviour?

Anonymous said...


The only people who can are the councillors, who won't, and the Minister Carl Sargeant, who won't.
Why they won't is the big question?????? One we should all be asking and one that needs answering!