Letter to the Flintshire Leader about Bryn-y-Baal.

Having had a similar letter ignored by the Flintshire Leader; God loves a trier so letter 2, made it to the letters page of the Flintshire Chronicle on 24, September 2015. I repeat it again as the present planning system is totally useless. Unless the Flintshire Planning Committee just rolls & agrees with every application planning officers bring to committee, we will continue to risk legal challenge from thwarted developers who could win. Costs against us don’t come cheap! This Authority is just about broke & we cannot afford this type of expenditure. Where do we go from here?

Dear Editor,

‘ NO,’ to 59 homes despite pressure from above’. 10-9-15.

Although Flintshire Planning Committee rejected officer’s advice to build 59 houses in the open countryside in a site considered ‘ significant incursion into the rural area, I fear the Bryn Y Baal jubilation may be short lived. As a delighted Jan, part of the protesters group, shook my hand after the result, I bluntly suggested that they were on borrowed time.

The Bloor Homes spokesman was clearly shocked by our decision & challenged the Chair; demanding the reasons although as the member who proposed refusal of the application, I had already given them. I had also stated ‘that no piece of land in Wales is now secure as the minister demanded more houses must be built “. Minister, Carl Sergeant had decreed in 2014 that houses would be built if there was less than five years land supply. Planners & Developers meet regularly to determine need and once a developer succeeds with outline planning consent, delay could be for years before a brick needs to be laid. Although work finally started on a massive building scheme near Flint, progress or otherwise rests entirely with the builder. Land banking is just one problem of this seemingly dysfunctional planning process.

Another is Welsh Government’s own ineptitude in failing to introduce essential policies to increase house building across Wales & is at crisis point. Members of our Planning Authority regularly face an impossible choice; ditch our policies introduced to protect our countryside and quality of life for our community or get hammered on appeal by the developer & risk costs against the Authority which we can ill afford.

Even Cardiff is happy to join the land grab, mentioned by my colleague at our meeting. 162 houses have been put on hold in Buckley. Guess who owns the land? Yep! Our Welsh Government.

Bloor Homes will probably appeal. To abandon such a marvellous site & income from 59 houses would beggar belief. They hold the twin aces of the 5 year land shortage argument & Flintshire Planning Officer’s approval for the proposal. Even so, Planning Inspectors are a law unto themselves & outcomes vary. I and my Ewloe residents were shocked to lose an appeal to build 41 houses, again breaching planning policy & this Category B settlement has suffered more development than Category A urban settlements such as Flint & Holywell. The Inspector fell in with the lack of 5 years supply rule & anyway, the new houses would tidy up the site & round it off!! Residents had fought valiantly to see off this threat to the local schools, roads & quality of life but it wasn’t to be. Costs were awarded against the Authority. Unbelievable!

Of course, as a Planning Authority member, I am bound by rules & I keep an open mind until the Committee debates an application. In my summing up of the 59 houses application, I recognised the risk of an appeal & costs but the schools are full & roads congested. Flintshire must provide better infrastructure, decent school building, plus a viable road network. We need houses but this need, must go hand in hand with sound & much needed infrastructure and community facilities,however costly.

Yours truly,

Alison Halford.

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