Council rejects contentious application for new Llandudno homes

PLANS for a development to build 49 homes on a Llandudno greenspace have been rejected.

Anwyl Homes’ proposal for 49 new homes, 17 of which would have been affordable, was put forward for land which forms part of a registered historic landscape, at the corner of Bodafon Road and Nant-y-Gamar Road, Craig-y-Don, next to Ysgol Y Gogarth and Llys Gogarth residential facility.

At a meeting today (March 9), following a site visit yesterday, members of the Conwy County Borough Council planning committee voted 6-5 in favour of the application being rejected, with one member abstaining.

Previously, numerous calls had been made to reject the application, including the potential dangers to wildlife and land at Bodafon Fields, the impact it will have on congestion on the roads, as well as at Ysgol Y Gogarth, a school for pupils with special educational needs aged between three and 19.

At the meeting, Mike Parry, speaking on behalf of the residents opposing the plans, said more than 250 objections had been made, and called for the council to “conserve” the Grade 3A land.

Mr Parry said: “Can you ask yourselves why the council is considering building on green fields? Albeit, this field was being suited 10 years ago as a potential site in the Local Development Plan, it is not anymore.

“We need to conserve, and not build on good land.

“Think of the children from all over the Conwy area with learning difficulties looking out of their windows at the school, only to see a construction site instead of quiet fields. This is not the place to build houses.

“The proposed junction is dangerous, and is coming out on a ‘one in 10’ incline. I question the integrity of the professional engineer that signed this off as safe.

“The refurbished school was refused a second junction by Conwy Highways, itself saying it was too dangerous. What has changed now?

“More traffic will increase the probability of a serious accident. It is bedlam at 3pm; heaven forbid if somebody was seriously injured on that junction.

“Nobody from Llandudno has asked for this estate to be built… we all know this is not right.”

David Rowley, chair of governors at Ysgol Y Gogarth, believed the impact that the development would have on the school’s 223 students to be “catastrophic”.

Mr Rowley added: “Until this planning application, the rationale for the choice of site hasn’t been impacted by a development directly bordering the school, and the location remains a key element in Conwy’s success in meeting this group of children’s needs.

“The development threatens to undermine the viability of the many elements of the extremely specialist and sensitive work that the school and children’s home (Llys Gogarth) deliver.

“Llys Gogarth provides the most challenging and complex children with long- and short-term accommodation and respite. The impact on this unique provision will be catastrophic.

“The impact of this housing development on the operation of the school, the children’s home, and the lives of our most vulnerable children will be a total, irreversible mistake.”

Likewise, Councillor Frank Bradfield (Craig-y-Don ward), the council’s disability champion, added: “Prime agricultural Grade 3A land should be preserved and used for its purpose – agricultural – and not be concreted over, and thereby lost forever.

“We lose protected species – moths, butterflies, and bats will all be affected and lose their habitats. 80 different species of birds will be affected, some of which migrate here.

“Pre-existing traffic congestion and access issues in this area will be made 10 times worse by this development. The rights of the special needs children at Ysgol Y Gogarth haven’t been given due consideration.

“This development will destroy the serenity and calm of the current school site, replaced by further traffic, noise and hustle and bustle.

“These special needs children have the right to be educated without impediment. Only people connected with Autism Spectrum Disorder will understand the pressures and difficulties presented to schools and families.”

In support of the application, Andrew Buroni, director of health and social impact assessment at Savills, spoke on behalf of Anwyl, having been commissioned by Anwyl to test if there was any equality impact.

Mr Buroni pointed to the help this development would provide in solving Conwy’s housing crisis, and “does not present an equality, transport or environmental impact”.

He said: “While the need for new, affordable homes in Conwy is clear, the extent of the issue and the impact it’s having is best captured through affordable housing waiting lists.

As detailed in the planning officer’s original report, the application meets all local policy requirements and was minded for consent, with the only caveat being subject to agreement of Section 106 and any new/unresolved equality matters that may arise before the close of engagement.

“Including all submissions to-date and today’s presentations, no evidence of an equality, transport or environmental impact have been presented by any party.

“The use of proximity as a proxy to infer a material impact or incompatibility is not evidence of an equality impact, and to infer so would only serve to alienate those protected characteristics.

“Given the nature of the school, further investigation and refinement of the application was warranted.

“This resulted in increasing the separation distance, enhanced visual and acoustic screening, internal layouts to remove potential noise and visual intrusions, relocation of the construction compound, further restriction of construction hours and delivery times to avoid school drop-off and pick-up periods, road safety improvements, and inclusion of disability play facilities within the new development itself.

“In addition, the applicant voluntarily requested to set a condition to prioritise the 35 per cent affordable housing provision for special educational needs individuals and their families.

“Refusal on equality grounds based on proximity, or inferred incompatibility, without any evidence of material impact, would be unsupported and only sterilise the land for future development, but also risk any prospect of future expansion of the respite centre and the school on the same principles.

“The proposed development meets all planning requirements, addresses a very real housing need, and does not present an equality, transport or environmental impact.”

Cllrs Nigel Smith (Kinmel Bay ward) and Peter Lewis (Uwchaled ward) also spoke in favour of the plans at the meeting.

Cllr Smith said: “The majority of schools are in urban areas, and Gogarth is no different. We have a national crisis for housing shortages.

“In the almost 10 years that I’ve been on this planning committee, every application coming forward for homes has always had people against them.

“They’re selfish thoughts about how it’s going to impact them, without looking at the larger picture of the young people and the families waiting without housing, many of whom are in temporary accommodation.

“In the 21st century, that is not acceptable.

“I’ve listened to the arguments, and they seem to bear scant regard to the 16,000 households at this moment in time in Conwy on our housing list.

“I think it’s outrageous, really, that at the last minute, our officers have changed their recommendation.

“Here, we’re asking the applicant to prove that the impact on the school’s 223 students will be limited. I’d also be interested in knowing, if we were to turn it down, what the impact will be on the 1,600 families on the housing list.

“We seem to be giving far more weight to the pupils than, really, to the rest of those residents that we are here to represent and support, as well.”

Cllr Lewis added: “I, like Cllr Nigel, am disappointed with the change of recommendation given the applicant’s engagement with our education department.

“We all recognise the value of Ysgol Y Gogarth. If the existing school wished to expand, would you not need to apply the same interpretation of the Equality Act in respect of their construction phase?

“Disruption would be the same for each development, in my view.”

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North Wales Pioneer | Llandudno