Thursday 8 October 2015

Council leader's barn...yet another site visit!

Update 20th October: The Council leader's 'barn conversion' was passed by the committee by 9 votes to 8 contrary to the recommendation of refusal, for a second time.


Previous post; Emlyn's Barn Take 2

Incredibly, the Planning Committee have decided to go on another site visit to view Council leader Emlyn Dole's barn conversion before making a decision.
One of the main reasons put forward for this was the interest from the press...obviously a very important material planning consideration.
Equally remarkable was that the 'sensitive' identity of the applicant was also put forward as a reason.

The application has been effectively kicked into the long grass in the hope that interest will wane and the spotlight move elsewhere.

As a reminder, this was originally recommended for refusal last year after enforcement action revealed that the original permission granted in 2012 had not been complied with. The committee then went on a site visit and approved the application contrary to the officers recommendation.
Site visits often have that 'effect'...

This retrospective application today (as I explained in my previous post) was again recommended for refusal, this time on different policy grounds.

The site visit is entirely unnecessary and is a deliberate move to stall the decision. Cllr Dole has continued to develop the site without the proper planning approval, flagrantly ignoring planning rules.
So much for setting an example as Council leader.

I also wonder whether each stage has been passed by building regs, and could it have been legally inspected anyway, without planning permission being issued?

According to the Llanelli Herald, and as their pictures show, the builders were there yesterday, if they crack on it should be all finished before the planning committee bus turns up for a repeat performance in a few weeks time.
They will then return to the Chamber where no doubt the site visit will be as 'effective' as it was last time.

I suppose the position of council leader does have a few perks after all.

The original barn, before being demolished by Cllr Dole.

Archived webcast now available here. This application is 2 hours 30 minutes into the meeting.


Wavell said...

Nice one !!
Now Emlyn simply cannot upset "The Firm" until he gets his planning approved can he !!

Anonymous said...

Surely a stop order should now be invoked, until the planning decision is taken?

Anonymous said...

As far as CCC planning committee is concerned “site visit” is usually shorthand for “we intend to determine this application against the recommendation of the officer’s report but a site visit will appear to give our bizarre decision some legitimacy”.
When these decisions which go against officer advice are appealed to the Planning Inspectorate or are subject to a judicial review it invariably costs CCC, therefore the council taxpayer, thousands of pounds in legal costs.
Remember the Dylan Thomas Memorial turbine? The officer’s report recommended refusal but the vice chair of the planning committee, Daff Davies, asked for a site visit to help determine the application of his old friend and business associate. Abracadabra! - application granted! That ended up going to judicial review with the result that CCC had to pay the claimants' full costs of £21,275 on top of its own legal costs of probably about the same amount.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Can Councillors claim extra expenses for going on unnecessary site visits? :)

Anonymous said...

Planning applications should not be determined by whether the applicant will take it to
appeal or not. Of course CCC uses this excuse when they know the applicant has the finances to do so.Councillors must not be swayed by this argument.

Anonymous said...

Re. Anonymous 17:46
I absolutely agree – what I’m saying at 15:33 is that the planning officer’s report is a professional, reasoned recommendation based on the LDP and current national planning regulations. When the planning committee go against an officer’s recommendation then scrabble about for a pretty unconvincing reason for doing so, they run a high risk of an appeal or judicial review and the ensuing costs involved.

You only need to consider the recent ‘One Planet Development’ application, the refusal of which, against officer’s advice, was confirmed at today’s meeting. Throughout its determination most councillors more then amply demonstrated they had absolutely no understanding of the planning issues involved but seemed determined that it should not be approved. I’m certain that the decision will appealed by the applicant and certain that the applicant will easily win that appeal.

Anonymous said...

Another indication of how rotten and corrupt this council is. We have a Chief Executive who is only interested in his own position and and has no interest in either his employees or the citizens of Carmarthenshire and now a further indication as to how corrupt some of the elected members are earning excessive public money with little accountability

Anonymous said...

To continue with the building is nothing but sheer arrogance.
But CCC are experts at that anyway.

Anonymous said...

Anon 19:04
Jac o’the North commented on this relationship in his blog post of August 17th. Referring to a meeting between Cllr Dole and Unison where, to Unison’s surprise, waiting to greet them in Cllr Dole’s office was the chief executive, he says …
“Emlyn Dole’s submission to The Ultimate Authority may be connected with his little ‘difficulty’, for Plaid’s leader in the seat where Gwynfor Evans won that famous 1966 victory has been caught flouting planning regulations.”

Anon 20:24
It doesn’t appear sensible to continue with a project that has been recommended for refusal for very sound reasons - does he know something we don’t?

Anonymous said...

Did the council suspect that there might to be a problem with this application back in November 2014 and some action to smooth its path was neccessary?
At the full council meeting on 12th November 2014, Cllr Alun Lenny proposed a motion that TAN 6 was not fit for purpose. It includes “It is also perverse to treat the conversion of a farm building into a home or business as a new build in the countryside.”
The Llanelli Star reported on the matter -
Cllr Dole’s comment “If you build on the existing foundations of an old building it shouldn’t be seen as a new build.” is towards the bottom of the report.

Anonymous said...

The new building might be on the footprint of the 400year old barn but what has that got to do with a one storey modern building which is the intention of Councillor Dole.
I have said it before that Councillor Dole has been foolhardy and extremely naive not to have considered the publicity and criticism in the wake of this application.
On the other hand perhaps he felt safe with Mark James's protection.
Whatever it is,are Councillor Dole's days numbered?

Wavell said...

But will Mr.Dole be treated just like any other member of the public contravening regulation?
We shall see - but I doubt it in CCC.

Anonymous said...

I see from the minutes for full council meeting of 12/11/14 that Cllr Lenny’s (Plaid) motion was unanimously supported. 6 days later, on 18/11/14 Cllr Dole (Plaid) wife’s application S/30698 was considered approved by the planning committee. I suppose life’s full of these little coincidences!
The reason given by the committee, which included Cllr Lenny was “6.1. that, as the Committee was satisfied that the proposal consituted re-build rather than new build and in view of the fact that the Authority actively encourages farm diversification, planning application S/30698 be approved, contrary to recommendation of the Head of Planning;” - who’s the farmer?
You can also see from the minutes that Cllr J.S. Williams (Plaid) addressed the Committee in respect of the application, the minutes state “A representation was received in support of the proposed development”. One of the points in the representation says “young children visit the farm and farm animals stray onto the farmyard and therefore safety is of paramount importance to the applicant;” – it’s a bit strange then that, in all the online images and aerial views of the property, there’s no sign of any farm animals and the gates onto the main road are open!

Also the Llanelli Star article says “Under current Welsh Government guidelines, families wanting to convert a barn or other rural buildings into a home, must first make it a holiday let. If, after three years they can prove this is not viable as a rural enterprise, they can then apply for more planning permission to convert it into a residential property.”
I thought that the combination of hairdressing salon and holiday lets was a rather odd, who would want to holiday next to a hairdressers?