Fears that Llandudno housing application could ‘permanently damage much-loved landscape’

CALLS have been made for Conwy County Borough Council to decline an application for a housing development on a Llandudno greenspace.

Anwyl Homes’ proposal for 49 new homes, 17 of which will be affordable, has been 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.

The application will be discussed by the council’s planning committee on Wednesday, March 9.

Numerous concerns have been raised regarding the development, including the potential dangers to wildlife and land at Bodafon Fields.

Others fear 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.

Gareth Pritchard, a resident of Rhiwledyn, Llandudno, wrote a joint letter with his wife, both of whom worked in the teaching profession, to Iwan Davies, the council’s chief executive, highlighting such worries.

North Wales Pioneer: A poster designed by Gareth to highlight the potential impact the development could have on the area's wildlife. Photo: Gareth PritchardA poster designed by Gareth to highlight the potential impact the development could have on the area’s wildlife. Photo: Gareth Pritchard

Extracts from the letter, shown to the Pioneer, read: “98 per cent of the land where Anwyl wishes to build, and the whole of Bodafon Fields, is classified as the ‘best and most versatile agricultural land’. It is Grade 3A grazing land, and should not be developed.

“Ysgol Y Gogarth pupils travel great distances, and during morning rush-hour when pupils arrive, and when they leave in the afternoon, it is utter chaos in Nant-y-Gamar Road and surrounding streets.

“As a thriving school, Ysgol Y Gogarth will soon need further extensions. Are they going to be deprived by the selfishness and greed of Anwyl Construction?

“A planning application for a new temporary building extension is at present under consideration and it is extremely important that this is safeguarded.

“How many local people will be able to afford these homes? ‘Affordable Housing’ is often described as a cruel joke.

“In winter, there are often over 200 curlews (birds) making the fields their home during winter months… do you wish for the eventual loss of Bodafon Fields to add to this total?

North Wales Pioneer: Curlews on Bodafon Fields. Photo: Gareth PritchardCurlews on Bodafon Fields. Photo: Gareth Pritchard

“Many of us are concerned that Llandudno is being destroyed by greed and envy.

“Anwyl Construction, by this application, will not be pleasing most residents who care for their town.”

Councillor Frank Bradfield (Craig-y-Don ward) particularly stressed the need for “absolute quietness” while students at Ysgol Y Gogarth learn, which he fears will be disrupted by this development.

Cllr Bradfield is also concerned about the potential loss of wildlife and rare species of birds, and does not believe the land should be in the council’s Local Development Plan (LDP) in the first place.

He said: “This site should not be in the LDP because of its high agricultural grade, and objections have been raised by traffic engineers and a city design architect regarding the car parking nightmare and traffic situation on the road adjacent to the entrance of the proposed site.

“The application means Llandudno will lose wildflowers, some of which are protected; insects, some of which are protected; as well as an abundance of wildlife and over 80 different species of birds, with some migrating to Llandudno to nest.

“There is a ‘special’ school on the meadow, Ysgol Y Gogarth, that was built away from the town for good, sound reasons.

“It is hoped that the committee realises the intricacies of living with the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affecting speech, language, sensory issues, mental deficiencies, and repetitive behaviour including epilepsy and intestinal issues, which worsen when the pupils meet an unexpected change.

“The professional tutors need absolute quietness when administering therapeutic, hands-on care and the school teaches pupils how to deal and express anger without being too aggressive.

“Disturbing their daily living will create mood swings and difficulties that will lead to reactions, and that should be avoided when caring for ASD.”

Likewise, Cllr Gareth Jones (Craig-y-Don ward) expressed his objections to the plans, suggesting that this sort of development “will not answer the call for the real type of housing that we need”.

Cllr Jones said: “This development clearly encroaches on good, agricultural land and will not enhance the landscape and attractive, natural features of wildlife and tranquillity that makes the fields so special to residents and visitors alike.

“The argument seems to be that we are short of housing in Llandudno/Conwy, but this development will not answer the call for the real type of housing that we need.

“Wages in Conwy are much lower than the national average and we see the outcome of this in increasing homelessness and families being forced to rent properties and being placed in inappropriate accommodation.

“Despite attempts at providing ‘affordable’ housing, these houses are more likely to be bought by the more affluent, and possibly as retirement or second homes by people from outside Conwy.

“The price to pay is the abandonment of real community – local family housing – needs (including education in terms of impact upon Ysgol Gogarth and Ysgol Bodafon) to exploit and permanently damage an historic and much-loved landscape.”

Since the application to build the dwellings was first registered in June 2021, Janet Finch-Saunders, Aberconwy MS, has been working with the community to scrutinise the application.

Mrs Finch-Saunders has now written a third letter to the council objecting to the development.

She added: “It is frustrating that Anwyl have made this application.

“With one hand, they wish to build houses on Bodafon Fields, yet with the other, they are not delivering homes in West Shore where the iconic Gogarth Abbey Hotel used to stand.

“With this in mind, the development would make a mockery of the planning system in Wales if it had the go-ahead.

“It seems that the local authority, if they approve the development, are willing for children to walk and cycle to Ysgol Bodafon along a narrow rural lane, which is not capable of being improved to meet modern standards.

“Would you be happy for your children to walk or cycle to school along a narrow road which has no pavement?

“The planning committee should stand firm with the residents and democratically elected representatives of Aberconwy, from Town Council to Welsh Parliament, and refuse permission for this development.

“It is the youngest and most vulnerable in society who it would negatively affect the most.

“I implore the planning committee to do the right thing and reject this planning application.”

In response to the above comments, Phil Dolan, managing director for Anwyl Homes Cheshire and North Wales, said: “Whilst we understand there is some opposition locally to the Nant-y-Gamar Road site being developed, the land is already allocated for housing in the adopted Local Plan.

“It is earmarked for up to 60 properties and we are proposing 49, of which 17 will be affordable homes for social rent, intermediate rent and shared ownership.

“There is a huge demand for housing in Llandudno and our proposed scheme would make a valuable contribution.

“There will be some one- and two-bedroom properties, as well as larger family homes.

“We are bringing this application forward in accordance with council policy and believe we have designed a scheme which is sensitive to the site location and its features.

“Play space and play equipment will be provided within the development and there have been no objections from the local Highways department.”

A council spokesperson added: “A full report on application 0/48610 will be presented to the planning committee on 9 March for consideration.”

Robin Millar, Aberconwy MP, added: “Planning is a well-defined legal process. Councillors play a really important role in that – representing residents’ views and balancing the interests of the wider community.

“Use of open spaces, extra traffic and noise, the burden on public services and affordable accommodation are all factors that councillors must take into consideration.

“I do take a close interest both as a resident and as MP. So, I will watch carefully to make sure that the proper process is followed.”

The planning application (0/48610) can be viewed in full at: www.conwy.gov.uk/en/Resident/Planning-Building-Control-and-Conservation/Planning-Applications/Planning-Explorer.aspx.

Efforts were also made to contact Ysgol Y Gogarth.

North Wales Pioneer | Llandudno