Hawarden Road - and a very angry community

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What happened this week...

We had our second public inquiry in as many months, but this one was very different.

These are the words of the Chairman of the planning committee at December’s meeting:

“The following item is considered exempt by virtue according to Paragraph 16 Part 4 of Schedule 12a of the Local Government Act 1972 as amended  “the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. So we are asking for members of the public and members of the press to leave the chamber please.”

What was said at that meeting was classified as privileged information and we do not know the content.

We do know the outcome because it is described in the ‘Statement of Common Ground’ in the Hawarden Road appeal:

“Item 1.7 On the 6 of December 2017 the Council resolved to withdraw its reasons for refusal referred to at paragraph 1.6 and that they would not continue to oppose the application. The Council are now of the view that planning permission should be granted, subject to appropriate conditions and Section 106 obligation”

In the same document, the council set out lots of details on which they agree with the developer. The Hawarden Road site was described as:

“Item 2.4 To the north and west, beyond the A550, the appeal site is surrounded by open farm land. To the south and east, the site is surrounded by residential dwellings.”

There are no houses immediately to the south and most of the land to the south is farmland.

“Item 4.11 It is agreed that the appeal proposals do not raise issues of social and community cohesion.”

“Item 4.14 The Local Planning Authority do not allege that the scheme should be refused on the basis of harm to the character and appearance of the area”

“Item 5.12 There are no issues on matters relating to highways, ecology, trees, flood risk, agricultural land classification, drainage or environmental amenity”

The local primary and secondary schools have no capacity and therefore the Local Planning Authority were requesting payments towards schools:

- £98,056 towards Ysgol Penyffordd Primary School
- £110,814 toward Castell Alun

Unfortunately the developer saw the Redrow inquiry and concluded that with a new Primary school due in 2019 and secondary school capacity at Elfed, there is no shortage of space and so they will be making no payments.

In discussing the school contributions the Council also took a curious position. Rather than calculating the number of available school places on the numbers known today. They presumed that the planning application for the new school would be successful and that the funding application to Welsh Government would also be successful. The consequence of these two assumptions was the loss of a £98,056 to Ysgol Penyffordd.

In summing up today, the developer said this:
“the objection is that residents of Penyffordd may not be able to access their first choice school (Castell Alun) if planning permission is granted. That objection is hopeless: The evidence demonstrates that Castell Alun is attended by a very significant number of children who live closer to Elfed High School which is significantly under capacity.”

So our village children could be split between Elfed and Castell Alun and no one cares.

The Local Planning Authority could have included a ‘Community Infrastructure Levy’ as part of the same S106 agreement but failed to do so (a CIL could contribute £1,100 per property towards community projects i.e. £35,200).

The public inquiry was held this week at Theatre Clwyd in Mold despite the fact that the Legion, the Institute and the Flintshire owned Community Centre (Youth Club) were all available. A handful of residents did make it to show their support and we thank them for making the effort.

The inquiry consisted of the appellants team, a Barrister and two expert witnesses, one a landscape witness and the second a planning expert.

Flintshire sent a barrister and the planning officer, Flintshire County Council’s solicitor was there some of the time. Flintshire’s Barrister did not present a case. She appeared to be there to protect the Flintshire planning officer. Together they only became animated when the discussion moved onto the details of the application were it to be approved.

Prior to 6th December, Flintshire had appointed Eden Planning Consultancy to prepare their case. Eden had submitted a statement of evidence which contained much of the same background information as the Redrow submission (by the same company). At the beginning of this appeal, Flintshire’s Barrister instructed the Inspector that he could disregard that evidence as it no longer represented Flintshire’s case. The Inspector indicated that he had read it and had questions arising from it. It was our only ‘professional’ defence on record.

The appellant repeatedly referred back to the position of the Local Planning Authority in recommending refusal and the Planning Committee in withdrawing their objections.

The consequence then of the 6th December meeting was:

-       For the planning committee to withdraw all objections and recommend approval, despite their original refusal

-       For Flintshire to not contest the appeal

-       For Flintshire to withdraw their own evidence supporting us

It will be interesting to know what was in the public interest that we didn’t hear when so much harm was done resulting from what we didn’t hear!

At the inquiry the community case was presented by local members of the Penyffordd Community Group:
- Alan Wight, Community Councillor
- Cllr David Williams, County Councillor and Chair of the Community Council
- Cllr Cindy Hinds, County and Community Councillor
- Roy Wakelam, Community Councillor
along with Mrs Randall, who lives opposite the site.

Cllr Heesom from the Planning Committee also attended the inquiry in support.

The inspector was very reasonable in allowing us to cross-examine and provide evidence.

Unfortunately, the community had no expert witnesses or Barrister to argue our case, though the Questionnaire and Place Plan gave us a solid defence. We were facing a planning specialist Barrister from Kings Chambers.

One of the things that came up in evidence was that, in preparing their planning statement, the local authority had approached the Welsh Government land unit to assess the land – the threshold for approaching Welsh Government is 20 hectares – significantly more than this site – so why did Flintshire approach them if it was not to try and defend their recommendation to refuse? This land classification would have saved the field in Higher Kinnerton that is being built on right now (56 houses).

The case for the developer, delivered aggressively, was :

- Flintshire have no development plan
- Flintshire have consistently failed to build enough houses
- It’s a rubbish piece of land that just happens to be on the wrong side of the road
- It’s not very much land (even though it is classified as Best-And-Most-Versatile land, protected by policy).
- Flintshire’s policies to protect against development in the open countryside are no longer relevant
- There would be no harm to the community from such a development
- School places is a matter for the Council’s admission policy – what’s wrong with Elfed?
- There should be no limit to how many houses are added to each settlement

The Council agree with their position.

So we’re not sure where that leaves us with future applications. We await an update on Rhos Road (South) and the final conditions on Rhos Road (North). Vounog is yet to be submitted as a full application.

On both Hawarden Road and Redrow, we are in the hands of the inspectors now and on this one his decision will be final – this application does not go to the Welsh Ministers (unlike the Redrow one).
 


 

Quick recap:
- Flintshire’s planning department recommended approval of the application before July 2017 planning committee. Because there had been no site visit, the committee deferred it until September.
- In August the developer lodged an appeal to the planning inspectorate for ‘non-determination’ because they thought it would be refused so they might as well appeal anyway.
- At September’s planning committee it was strongly refused – despite severe pressure from the planning officers – 5 of them spoke to the committee to tell them to approve it.
- At December’s planning committee, behind closed doors, the committee were spoken to again and withdrew the refusal.

Vounog Consultation Deadline 26th December

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The initial consultation by the developer on Vounog Hill closes on the 26th December.

The 28 day consultation is now a statutory requirement of developers before they submit a planning application. Your responses to the developer should be listened to and taken into account in the final designs before they are submitted to the planning department.

If you are objecting to the development completely, then write to tell them that. You don't need to say why, just object.

If you believe there are improvements that can be made to the layout, design, housing mix, access or anything else that they could reasonably change, then you should include the detail and see if they are prepared to make the changes.

The next stage is the full planning application (expect that in late January / early February). When the public consultation opens, then we have to get as many people as possible to object - and refer to planning reasons and policy reasons why it should be refused.

We will be holding a public meeting in early January and we will go through the details then.

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Flintshire Local Development Plan - Community Group Response

The Flintshire LDP is in its next stage of consultation. They are asking us to consider their strategy for growth - the number of houses needed (7,645) in Flintshire up to 2030, and where and how they should be distributed (according to sustainable principles).

They have also shared the first assessment of the extent to which they believe that individual 'candidate sites' comply with that strategy. In Penyffordd they are saying that 2 sites completely comply - the remainder of Wood Lane Farm and a smaller site at Beverley, close to Meadowslea. All the remaining sites around the boundary of the village are partly in compliance with the strategy - these include the Hawarden Road and Redrow sites. The only ones which are not compliance are those detached from the settlement such as Bank Farm and down Terrace Lane.

Everyone is welcome to have their say. All of the response details are available on Flintshire's website:

http://www.flintshire.gov.uk/en/Resident/Planning/Preferred-Strategy-Pre-Deposit-Public-Consultation.aspx

The Penyffordd Community Group have prepared a detailed response to the whole strategy and have been looking in detail at how other settlements are being considered. Our belief is that Flintshire need to work with communities, agree a scale of likely development and, through Place Plans or community engagement, involve the communities in working out where to put the houses.

If distribution is equal, villages like Penyffordd would only be taking around 50 additional homes over the plan period.

You can view the relevant pages of the Flintshire Candidate site document here:

This text of the Penyffordd Community Group Response is written in full below or can be downloaded from here: 

If you have any comments about our response please email team@penyfforddcommunity.org or comment via this website. We will submit this response before the Thursday 21st December deadline.


Preferred Strategy
(Pre-Deposit Public Consultation)

Preferred Strategy Consultation

COMMENTS OF PENYFFORDD COMMUNITY GROUP

Email: team@penyfforddcommunity.org

www.penyfforddcommunity.org


Consideration of Strategic Options Consultation and Assessment of Options

Preferred Level of Growth

 

The Preferred Strategy makes provision for a level of growth comprising 8-10,000 jobs through some 223 ha of employment land, supported by a housing provision for 7,645 new homes to meet a housing requirement of 6,950 dwellings. This represents a mix of Option 4 and Option 6 from the Strategic Options document. Do you have any comments to make on preferred level of growth?

Comments:

1.1 It would be useful to confirm that the growth target number is for the whole plan period – 2015 t0 2030 and that includes sites developed since 2015. A best estimate would put that at around 1,500 dwellings to December 2017 have been built. If this is taken into account and the 1,600 homes on the two strategic sites, are we correct in presuming that we are looking for land allocation sufficient for 4,500 – ignoring the sites brought forward in 2018, 2019 and 2020 prior to the plan adoption – potentially another 1,500+ homes?

1.2 Does this mean that less than half of the candidate sites will comply with this strategy in a planned way? This suggests that the council must take steps to proactively manage sites that come forward ahead of the plan to ensure that they are aligned with the strategy for the future. That is only possible if more detail is forthcoming about the assessment of the sustainability of settlements and the expected growth by location.

1.3 Worded differently – this says that if we have to accept that your delivery timeline is slipping for reasons beyond the authorities control, then we are saying that the authority need to take active responsibility for managing development in line with the strategy prior to adoption – in an accountable way, rather than being driven by the commercial interests of developers.

1.4 It also suggests that more resource is needed to complete the plan earlier. While the reasons for the delay July 2020 have been published, every effort must be made to bring forward the timeline, either by bringing in more resource or by collaborating with authorities who have completed their plans to short-circuit some of the background policy work.

1.5 The latest instruction from Cardiff is for adjacent authorities to produce joint plans. Although Flintshire and Wrexham are not included in that instruction because at this time they have not completed an LDP, there is an opportunity to share resources, particularly around external consultants and policy definition.

1.6 With so many communities actively engaged in the process, can some of the candidate site assessment and suitability work not be done in collaboration with Community Councils? The use of Place Plans as supplementary planning guidance could have their place, providing they are aligned with the LDP strategy and could make it more effective at a local level.

1.7 If communities had a sense of the anticipated scale of development expected of them, then they can prepare the residents with communication and start the debate about the most suitable sites (see Appendix 1). Currently, there are communities across Flintshire viewing the map of candidate sites around them and offering resistance to all in fear of the potential scale that could come their way.

1.8 Flintshire Commentary on Population Growth:
The last reference for population in Flintshire is 148,600.

The 2011 census based WG projections indicate that Flintshire’s population is only likely to grow by 2% over the plan period for the LDP. This is due to a combination of changes in the trends for both components of population change i.e. natural change (births and deaths) and migration. Positive natural change is slowing down (more births than deaths) and migration change is neutral. These projections however may be an underestimate as they used recession period trends with which to project forwards. Flintshire’s population age structure is ageing which will have implications on the demand for new housing as well as more specialised types of housing need.

In terms of housing provision, the UDP plan period covered the years 2000 to 2015 and that Plan set out to 4 provide a housing requirement of 7,400 homes or 493 homes per annum. That requirement has not been met and is unlikely to be as we approach the end of the Plan period. This will have implications for the Local Development Plan housing requirement figure.

1.9 Every one of the last 4 decades has had a recession at some point – each for different and not repeated reasons. It is reasonable to expect there to be at least one period of recession in the plan period, not least with the knowledge that we have Brexit and relatively unstable government. A great deal of employment locally stems from Airbus and its feeder businesses which in turn are dependent on the trading relationship with the EU.

1.10 Even allowing for the strategic economic jobs creation, these figures feel high when compared against what has been delivered from the UDP allocations and the forecast population growth.

1.11 We have a concern that we are looking at figures to satisfy Cardiff and National needs, rather than reflective of deliverable and sustainable targets for Flintshire.


Preferred Spatial Strategy

The Preferred Strategy is based on Option 5 of the Strategic Options Document, ‘Sustainable Distribution plus a Refined Approach to Rural Settlements’ whereby growth is directed to the top three tiers of the settlement hierarchy and in the bottom two tiers provision is focussed around meeting local needs.

Comments:

2.1 Like many, we agreed that the most flexible Spatial option was the most realistic and that growth-by-numbers has not worked under the UDP. However, at this stage, it all feels very vague. Allocations will depend on the settlement banding, the sustainability of individual settlements (though with 5 bandings settlements are very different and have experienced very different growth under the UDP), market forces, jobs and transport hubs – there is barely any narrowing of location based on the strategy.

2.2 Any infrastructure provider, housebuilder or indeed residents wishing to purchase or move have no idea where Flintshire plan to build their 7,645 houses, aside from on the Airfields site and Warren Hall.


Policy STR1 Strategic Growth

This policy makes provision for:
- 8,000 to 10,000 jobs
- 223ha of employment land
- 7,645 new homes to meet a housing requirement of 6,950

Comments:

2.3 Is there any evidence base of these jobs coming forward realistically in the plan period? Based on recent development history, it is easy to foresee the Flintshire borderlands becoming a dormitory for Cheshire, Manchester and Liverpool professional workers. We would prefer a more cautious approach with the plan reviewed if employment on this scale is forthcoming.

2.4 Reference to wiping the slate clean (in reference to adding on unused UDP sites) makes sense to some extent. However, where there are brownfield sites which should be developed before encroaching on open countryside, those sites should be included and every effort made to bring them forward. Limiting the supply of green field land will act as an incentive to builders, particularly smaller local builders.

2.5  However, there are two questions to be asked in respect of the UDP under-delivery:

2.6 There is clearly a failing of the plan methodology in the UDP. The adoption of the UDP is relatively recent and therefore lessons have to be learned about why these sites have been through the UDP process, including the public inquiry, and not come forward in such high numbers. There is no reference to these lessons or understanding of why the problem exists. Without this learning it is reasonable to be concerned about some of the same assumptions being carried into sites in the new plan. Just saying that we are not allocating ‘by numbers’ is not enough.

2.7 It is not clear to what extent the reason for the recent non-development of UDP sites stems from TAN1 and the consequent ease with which developers have been able to identify more lucrative and cost effective green field sites, outside of the plan.

2.8 There is this worrying and ambiguous phrase used:
“…it will be necessary for the LDP to provide for a sufficient level of flexibility on top of the ‘new allocations’ element to allow for any sites that might not come forward at all or not come forward as quickly as expect.”

2.9 What does this mean? Is the plan to allocate sites beyond those needed to meet the preferred growth target and if that is the case, is there a risk that the most commercially viable settlements will consequently carry a disproportionate share?
 

Policy STR2 Location of Development

This policy directs new development to:
- Allocated sites
- Principal Employment Areas
- Sustainable settlements based on the first 3 tiers of the settlement hierarchy:
- Main Service Centres  – the main locations for new housing development which reinforces and contributes to sustainable settlements
- Local Service Centres – the location for more modest levels of housing growth
- Sustainable Villages – the location for housing development related to the scale, character and role of the settlement
- Defined Villages will be the focus for a flexible and sustainable approach to delivering local needs affordable housing.
- Undefined Villages will be limited to small scale infill or rounding off for local needs affordable housing.

Comments:

3.1 Sustainable Locations for development as set out in the document -

3.2 From the consultation documents:
Infrastructure capacity – ensuring capacity either exists or can be provided
Contraints – physical, environmental or policy
Commitments – location of existing commitments
Candidate sites – acknowledging availability of sites
Accessibility to key services, facilities, employment, transport nodes and corridors
Services and facilities available
Local housing market conditions
Housing land supply – ensuring a 5 year supply can be maintained
UDP comparison – comparing each option with the UDP approach
PPW conformity
Flexibility – need for additional sites??

Conformity with emerging plan – reference to key messages and objectives of the plan

3.3 Are the planners alone deciding on sustainability of each settlement or are other statutory consultees being involved? Given the state of healthcare provision and public transport rumours of reduced services not to mention broadband, sewerage capacity, water supplies and school provision, the voice of local communities through Place Plans or consultation must carry significant weight due to their unique local insights.

3.4 We believe that there must be a more detailed assessment of settlements in existence which takes these factors into account and therefore we should be able to assess the likely level of development in each settlement individually – subject to the final detailed assessment of the potential candidate sites?

3.5 It is not clear what the detailed criteria were in the green / amber / red assessment of sites as they correspond to the spatial strategy. In our analysis (Table 1 overleaf), which removes duplicate sites as far as possible, it can be seen that the Sustainable Villages have substantially more ‘Green’ sites than the Local Service Centres.

3.6 We can also see that there is a significant shortfall in ‘green’ sites when compared to the overall need. Does this suggest that all of these green sites are likely to go forward into the adopted plan and that there is the need for some of the Amber sites too?

3.7 Although accepting and acknowledging the desire not to allocate by numbers – there has to be a baseline estimate how they will be distributed as a starting point – whether it is published or not.

3.8 We have done some quick calculations as a guide (removing the 1,600 homes on the strategic sites but not those already built):

3.9 If we assume that most people want to live in and around services, then the greatest distribution would be around towns – the Main Service Centres – we have estimated 40% of the target homes for those 8 settlements – or around 302 homes each.

4.0 We have allocated 30% to the Local Service Centres – so each of those 7 settlements would receive 259 homes. Finally, we have allocated 20% to the Sustainable Villages – so each of the 22 villages would receive 55 new homes each.

4.1 These are baseline figures only – clearly when we take into account existing commitments, proximity to transport nodes and employment then some settlements are likely to deliver more and others less and we also recognise that not all ‘sustainable villages’ are equally sustainable – but this is a reasonable baseline.

4.2 Comparing those numbers against the ‘Green’ sites, we see (per settlement figures):

Main Service Centres – Target 302 homes  – Green sites available = 293 homes
Local Service Centres – Target 297 homes – Green sites available = 37 homes
Sustainable Villages – Target 55 homes – Green sites available = 54 homes

4.3 So the top and third tier green sites are almost exactly what is needed based on the available Green sites. Local Service Centres are significantly under.

4.4 When we analyse the detail it is significantly less informative. Of the 22 Sustainable Villages:

Twelve sustainable villages have no ‘green’ sites at all and the top five sustainable villages account for 1,008 of the 1,192 ‘Green’ homes in the Sustainable villages:

Of the 8 Main Service Centres, Flint has 1,598 homes in ‘green’ sites – 68% of the total.

4.5  If we consider the reference to employment and transport nodes, then it would be expected that those locations closest to the Deeside Enterprise Zone, the A55, A494 or train stations would have higher allocations.

4.6 Connahs Quay (Main Service Centre) has 105 ‘Green’ homes.
Saltney (Main Service Centre), Queensferry (Main Service Centre) Hawarden, Broughton, Garden City, Mancot, Northop, Northop Hall, Drury, Bretton and Sandycroft (Local Service Centres), all of which are close to employment and transport links, have no Green sites.

4.7 Reference to the settlement hierarchy as it affects Hope, Caewgrle, Aberborddu and Cefn y Bedd (HCAC) doesn’t make much sense when taken in the wider context of the available candidate sites and other policy matters such as active travel. These settlements are geographically distinct and it is not realistic to expect residents to walk between them (they are served by three separate train stations).

4.8 Although they have been grouped together since the Alyn and Deeside Plan, that in itself is not justification alone. The UDP inspector did not find a problem with the single boundary but setting that boundary was not a primary concern of the inspector. The purpose of the LDP is to identify sites suitable and sustainable for development. It is not clear how considering four distinct settlements as a single settlement helps with the Wellbeing and Cohesive Communities goals.

4.9 In reviewing the wider figures, it would be useful to understand better what criteria have been used and how those criteria have been applied in relation to the Spatial Plan, because the numbers do not reflect the wording of the strategy.


Policy STR3 Strategic Sites

 This policy makes provision for strategic mixed use sites at:
- Warren Hall, Broughton
- Northern Gateway, Deeside

5.1 The growth target for both employment and housing is ambitious and will require the strategic sites to be brought forward. Clearly Warren Hall is located closer to Higher Kinnerton and Penyffordd and is likely to have an impact on these settlements and that should be taken into account when considering other housing allocations.

5.2 There are concerns that Phase 2 of the single site school in Penyffordd may be brought forward ahead of the end of the LDP plan period to accommodate additional pupils from both Warren Hall and Higher Kinnerton. We have expressed concern about Phase 2 for a number of reasons, the most significant of which is transport and access.

Policy STR4 Principles of Sustainable Development & Design

This policy includes ways to deliver sustainable development

6.1 Where is the detail of this policy? Clearly sustainable development is a fundamental principle of Planning Policy Wales.

Policy STR5 Transport and Accessibility

This policy aims to facilitate an integrated transport system and ensure sustainable and accessible development.

7.1 We need to be wary of assessments of public transport as a measure of sustainability, without assessing the full extent of the services. For example, the Borderline railway is not likely to electrified during this plan period and with a change of franchise operator, the frequency of service – currently adequate at best – is not guaranteed.

7.2 The local bus services are under-utilised and car ownership is the primary means of transport. Penyffordd has, in the past year, lost one bus service, had another half its frequency of service and has no Sunday service. One of the two remaining services is under threat of closure or further reduction in the frequency of services.

7.3 Community Transport schemes are in their early stages and with Flintshire’s general budget context, are under serious threat with the cost potentially beyond the affordability of Community and Town Councils.

7.4 It would good to see this policy refer to active travel, so that the principle becomes ingrained in policy rather than a ‘tick box’.


Policy STR6 Services, Facilities and Infrastructure

This policy aims to ensure that new development is supported by necessary and adequate infrastructure whether through CIL or planning obligations.

8.1 Communities are dependent upon CIL payments and they must go beyond education and childrens play areas. Communities need open space, shared community facilities for all ages and basic amenities including improved waste, water, gas, electric and high-speed internet.

8.2 CIL payments are best allocated by Town and Community Councils who are in turn responsible for consulting the Community. Place Plans as SPG are an ideal way to deal with this.
 

Policy STR7 Economic Development, Enterprise and Employment

This policy seeks to ensure a healthy, vibrant and diverse local economy.

9.1 In Penyffordd there is a suggestion that land be made available for small business units close to the train station. These appear to have been dismissed due to the availability of other employment sites in the County. In practice there are increasing numbers of self employed and small businesses with few affordable, local facilities available. Warren Hall is not likely to bring forward office or workshop space suitable for small growing businesses or start-ups.

 

Policy STR8 Employment Land Provision

This policy makes provision for a range of employment land and premises.

10.1 See STR7
 

Policy STR9 Retail Centres and Development

This policy seeks to support town, district and local shopping centres as multi-functional hubs for local communities.

11.1 There is an urgent need to support retail and other community based enterprise in our local town centres. Retail is changing forever with the shift to online purchasing and town centres have been decimated, particularly smaller centres such as Buckley.

Policy STR10 Tourism, Culture and Leisure

This policy sets out a number of principles to be applied in considering different tourism, leisure and cultural development proposals.

12.1 Referring again to the potential commercial sites at Penyffordd train station, which would suit businesses serving passing 4x4, cycling and motorcycle traffic heading for the AONB and National Parks.


Policy STR11 Provision of Sustainable Housing Sites

This policy sets out the approach to and principles to be applied in making provision for viable and deliverable housing development to meet general, affordable and specific housing needs.

13.1 We cannot see the detail of the policy but the principle of enabling existing residents, whether growing families, young people looking for a first home or the elderly downsizing, to find alternative accommodation within their budget is essential. This is a separate issue to homes defined as ‘affordable’ and is why a balanced  housing mix is so important.

 

Policy STR12 Provision for Gypsies and Travellers

This policy sets out the approach taken in providing for the needs of gypsies and travellers.

 

Policy STR13 Natural and Built Environment, Green Networks & Infrastructure

This policy encompasses a number of strands in seeking to protect both the built and natural environment.

15.1 We need to ensure that heritage buildings are protected as far as is reasonable affordable and practical. Reviewing the history of Penyffordd / Penymynydd and realising the number of heritage / history buildings that have been lost to development is sad – Penymynydd Methodist Chapel, The Towers, Meadowslea, the White Lion, The Royal Oak for example. There are few buildings left which help to define the settlement and provide a sense of heritage. It would be very easy to sweep aside these types of buildings, not suitable for listing, and lose the spirit of a village.

15.2 The natural environment is equally as important, whether it is semi-ancient woodland, as enjoyed between Penymynydd and Dobshill or the agricultural field structures and hedgerows established hundreds of years ago.

15.3 The Penyffordd Place Plan seeks to connect people to the natural environment and heritage around us through the introduction of heritage and nature walks.


Policy STR14 Climate Change and Environmental Protection 

This policy sets out the ways in which the Plan can help address Climate Change and also deals with other aspects of environmental protection such as flood risk, pollution and energy generation.

16.1 Solar farms and managed woodland are increasingly popular and suitable for land which is unavailable for housing development from which the landowners would like to recover some income – policies should be included for this eventuality.

16.2 More emphasis than ever is needed on the protection of established trees and hedgerows on sites which are granted planning permission. We must stop it being acceptable to remove large proportions of vegetation in order to increase the number of units that can be built on a site. This should be enshrined in policy.
 

Policy STR15 Waste Management

This policy seeks to ensure a sustainable approach to managing waste within the County.

17.1 Wales and Flintshire have an excellent record in encouraging household recycling, but this can be further enhanced through designs which allow for space for recycling bins and receptacles.
 

Policy STR16 Strategic Planning for Minerals

 This policy sets out the ways in which the Plan will sustainably manage minerals resources and activity.

Are there any other strategic policies that should be included?

The Preferred Strategy sets out a comprehensive framework of policies but you may consider that additional strategic policies need to be included?

Are there any other comments on the Preferred Strategy?

Do you have any comments on other aspects of the Preferred Strategy including supporting documentation?

Comments specific to Penyffordd / Penymynydd:

 

20.1  The growth under the UDP in Penyffordd is well documented. The settlement grew from 1,340 houses in April 2000 to 1,622 in April 2015, most of them post 2011.

20.2  In the LDP period, Penyffordd has grown by a further 174 houses, including 53 built outside the boundary previously and 40 for which permission has been granted but which are yet to be built. There are a further 32 which are subject to appeal and which FCC are unwilling to contest.

20.3  According to Flintshire County Council, Penyffordd has experienced the highest percentage growth of any settlement in Flintshire.

20.4  In light of the figures shown above for the distribution of houses across the County and the position of Penyffordd in the 3rd tier, the adjacent strategic site at Warren Hall with 300 houses, it is reasonable to say that Penyffordd need not accept any further allocations.

20.5  But the village is realistic about need and in our Place Plan we have acknowledged that some further growth may be necessary – if it of the right type to meet local demand – it equates to a further 37 houses over the plan period (excluding Hawarden Road), but none ahead of the LDP adoption – to allow time for infrastructure to catch up.

20.6  There is genuine concern that the allocated site PEN037, the remainder of Wood Lane Farm, has been designed as a ‘green’ site. Please can you expand on the reasoning and reassure us that it has nothing to do with a developer ready with a plan to bring forward?  Our Place Plan 2.2 (reference 3.07)  defines this site are being too large and will result in unsustainable levels of growth, particularly if it is developed as a continuation of the Groves development with the same housing density as it is widely speculated to be.

20.7  There is also confusion about PEN038, the current Redrow application site, which was dismissed as an unnecessary incursion into open countryside and an unnatural extension of the settlement in both the UDP inspectors report and the Planning Officers report this year on the Redrow application. The fact that it is considered to be a potential site for inclusion the LDP in the consultation published just days before the start of the Redrow Public Inquiry was, at best, an embarrassment and at worst may have compromised the case. What is the reasoning given the huge public outcry about the Redrow application?

20.8  It would useful to understand the criteria used to determine that a site of this size in a sustainable village and how it is considered compliant with the spatial strategy?

20.9  The other ‘green’ site in Penyffordd is at ‘Beverley’, PEN006. The wishes of the community are that this side of Vounog Hill / Wrexham Road remain green field and the Place Plan 2.2. (reference 3.21) reflects this. We understand from neighbouring properties that since Meadowslea was built there have been problems with drainage on this land, leading to running water at times and therefore it should be designed ‘Amber’.

20.10  On a point of consistency, the planning department’s report on the Hawarden Road application in Penyffordd referred to the Penyffordd Place Plan objective 3.06 which describes the will of the village not wanting developments larger than 25 homes. In the report the officer expressed the opinion that developments of 25 homes were not viable or good use of land. Site PEN006 would yield fewer than 20 houses. Why then does it comply with the spatial strategy and if it is does, then either the Hawarden Road report was wrong or the strategy is wrong?

20.11  There needs to be some more clarity around the criteria used to assess sites. We noted that beyond Penyffordd there are sites as large as 7.7 hectares (Drury), 9.67 Hectares (Drury), 5.18 (Leeswood), 21 hectares (Mancot) and 37 hectares (Mancot) in sustainable villages, yet in another one of 4.49 hectares (Caerwys) is excluded ‘because of the position of the settlement in the hierarchy’. Is there a size constraint or not and how ‘sustainable’ is ‘sustainable’?

Candidate Site Specific Feedback:
 

Due to the contribution already made to housing in the LDP period, no further sites should be considered in Penyffordd / Penymynydd in this plan period. The comments below are made in the interests of being constructive – but do not change this fundamental point.

 

PEN001 Wrexham Road Bryn yr Haul 0.1815 Hectare

Possible boundary change (AMBER)

Due to the contribution already made to housing in the LDP period, no further sites should be considered in Penyffordd / Penymynydd in this plan period.

Place Plan References:
3.21 Vounog Hill Land east of Vounog to be designated as green barrier or green wedge.

PEN002 Bank Farm 2.747
Does not comply (RED)

We agree, this site does not comply but we would like to see it developed as a barn conversion or small commercial business - the site is currently in a state of disrepair

Place Plan References:
3.13 Ensure that the settlement boundary does not extend towards Broughton from Penymynydd particularly in light of the plans for the strategic development of Warren Hall.

6.04 Change of use: Agricultural & Disused Buildings Proposals for the regeneration of derelict sites or alternative use of agricultural buildings within the ward will be supported providing they comply with the requirements of other policies in this plan and where the proposals would not have a detrimental impact on the, rural setting, residential amenity of neighbours and traffic environment.

PEN003 Station Way 1.704
Complies but with constraints (AMBER)

Known drainage issues with this land - not a natural extension of the settlement

Place Plan References:

3.07 Candidate sites above 1.6 hectares should be discounted as too large for the

settlement. The Plan for 2030 section highlights the candidate sites the community

believe should be assessed under the LDP - this does not represent part of this Plan,

merely advisory and based on local knowledge. Nor does it represent an endorsement

of any of the remaining sites.

 

PEN004 Offas Dyke 0.9997
Complies but with constraints

Concerns over access to the site which would need to be better understood. Concerns over bypass noise.

Place Plan References:
3.02 The A550 Pen-y- fford bypass (constructed in 1986) does not represent the settlement boundary.


PEN005 South of Rhos Road 0.942882
Complies but with constraints (AMBER)

Application already submitted for retirement apartments. The expectation is that the authority will recommend refusal.

 

PEN006 Beverley, Wrexham Road 0.4777
Complies (GREEN)

Known drainage issues with this land.

Place Plan References:

3.21 Vounog Hill Land east of Vounog to be designated as green barrier or green wedge.

 

PEN007 Hope Hey, Rhos Road 0.2985

Complies but with constraints (AMBER)

Detached from the settlement.

Place Plan References:

3.02 The A550 Pen-y- fford bypass (constructed in 1986) does not represent the settlement boundary.

 

PEN008 Bryn yr Haul, Wrexham Road 0.79038

Does not comply (RED)

Detached from the settlement.

Place Plan References:
3.13 Ensure that the settlement boundary does not extend towards Broughton from Penymynydd particularly in light of the plans for the strategic development of Warren Hall.

 

PEN009 Hawarden Road 1.36216 duplicate (see PEN040)
Does not comply (RED)

Detached from the settlement.

Place Plan References:
3.13 Ensure that the settlement boundary does not extend towards Broughton from Penymynydd particularly in light of the plans for the strategic development of Warren Hall.

3.07 Candidate sites above 1.6 hectares should be discounted as too large for the settlement. The Plan for 2030 section highlights the candidate sites the community believe should be assessed under the LDP - this does not represent part of this Plan, merely advisory and based on local knowledge. Nor does it represent an endorsement of any of the remaining sites.

 

PEN013 Station Way 1.07615

Complies but with constraints (AMBER)

Concerns over access to the site and known site drainage problems.

Place Plan References:

3.13 Ensure that the settlement boundary does not extend towards Broughton from Penymynydd particularly in light of the plans for the strategic development of Warren Hall.

 

PEN014 Rhos Road 1.57806 (approved)

Now has planning permission (GREY)

Planning permission has been granted for 40 dwellings.

Place Plan References:

3.02 The A550 Pen-y- fford bypass (constructed in 1986) does not represent the settlement boundary.

 

PEN015 Railway Station (Employment) 0.292692
No need for land such as this (PURPLE)

Although larger scale employment land has been allocated, there is justification for small starter units for local businesses.

Place Plan References:

6.01 Siting of Businesses Proposals to develop small light industrial, small offce and retail sites close to the A550 / railway station will be supported provided they comply with the requirements of other objectives in this plan.

6.02 The objective is to promote the best sites for business in the ward in respect of road services, sustainable transport for employees and the impact on the surroundings.

 

PEN016 Railway Station (Employment) 2.33272

No need for land such as this (PURPLE)

Although larger scale employment land has been allocated, there is justification for small starter units for local business

Place Plan References:
6.01 Siting of Businesses Proposals to develop small light industrial, small offce and retail sites close to the A550 / railway station will be supported provided they comply with the requirements of other objectives in this plan.

6.02 The objective is to promote the best sites for business in the ward in respect of road services, sustainable transport for employees and the impact on the surroundings.


PEN031 Penyfford school fields  (mixed use) 0.434518
Windfall potential (AMBER)

This site will be available for development from 2020 but not as housing 'windfall'. The community would like some guarantee openspace to ensure the future of community events. The community would like to explore the possibility of using part of the site to house a relocated Spar shop via landswap or incentive. Alternatively the community would like to explore the possibility of re-introducing some healthcare provision in the village on part of this site.

Place Plan References:
6.08 While many villagers are keen for additional choice and capacity in food retail within the village of Pen-y- ffordd, we must be mindful of the need to protect village size and community life and for businesses to be sustainable and appropriate for the village/ward resident numbers. New retail premises must fit into the feel of the village and not cause a reduction in the quality of life of existing and future residents.

6.09 Provision of Health Services

Proposals for the re-introduction of a healthcare facility in the village would be welcomed where the design is of a scale and design fitting of a village environment, provide adequate parking provision and a robust tra c plan. They must not have a detrimental impact on the residential amenity of neighbours including issues of noise, traffic congestion, smells and vibration.


PEN032 Penyffordd school (community facility) 0.713924
Windfall potential (AMBER)

See PEN031

See PEN031
 

PEN033 Melwood Close 0.108145
Windfall potential (AMBER)

Planning permission has been granted for 5 dwellings but we understand there is a problem with agreeing S106 contributions. The Council are keen to bring forward this development.

Place Plan References:
3.26 The former clinic on Melrose Close need to be reused for development or open space - it should not remain in the current state.


PEN034 Abbots Lane (housing) 0.288797
Windfall potential (AMBER)

Site has been agreed as the location of the single site school, subject to planning permission.


PEN035 Spar 0.139276
Windfall potential (AMBER)

See PEN031 - the location of the Spar on this site is not sustainable and proactive efforts are needed to relocate the grocery store within the village, potentially off-Chester road on the old school grounds. This site could be used for affordable housing potentially in a land-swap arrangement.


PEN036 Hawarden Road 1.36216 duplicate (see PEN040)
Complies but with constraints (AMBER)

See PEN009


PEN037 Wood Lane Farm (North) 3.48232  duplicate (see PEN040)
Complies (GREEN)

It is not clear how this site complies with the Spacial Strategy where others do not. The community have been suspicious about the intentions for this land since the access road was built and the application went in on the Hawarden Road site. There are serious concerns about access, the loss of agricultural land, the use of the by pass as a boundary and above all the size of the potential development - potentially over 100 home is not sustainable in a single development.

Place Plan References:
3.06 Size

The will of the village that there is no more growth under the LDP but if developments are permitted, the maximum acceptable size of an individual site must not exceed 25 homes.

3.07 Candidate sites above 1.6 hectares should be discounted as too large for the settlement. The Plan for 2030 section highlights the candidate sites the community believe should be assessed under the LDP - this does not represent part of this Plan, merely advisory and based on local knowledge. Nor does it represent an endorsement of any of the remaining sites.

3.02 The A550 Pen-y-fford bypass (constructed in 1986) does not represent the settlement boundary.


PEN038 Chester Road 7.69755
Complies but with constraints (AMBER)

Application for 186 houses is ubject to a public inquiry and considered an excessive incursion into open countryside  and too large to be sustainable in both the UDP inspectors report and the Planning Officers report on the Redrow application. Should have been a 'red' does not comply with the strategy in this consultation.

Place Plan References:
3.13 Ensure that the settlement boundary does not extend towards Broughton from Penymynydd particularly in light of the plans for the strategic development of Warren Hall.

3.07 Candidate sites above 1.6 hectares should be discounted as too large for the settlement. The Plan for 2030 section highlights the candidate sites the community believe should be assessed under the LDP - this does not represent part of this Plan, merely advisory and based on local knowledge. Nor does it represent an endorsement of any of the remaining sites.


PEN039 Rhos Road 1.57806 (duplicate?)
Now has planning permission

Duplicate site see PEN014
 

PEN040 Wood Lane Farm (Combination of duplicates) 4.8156
Complies but with constraints

Combination of sites PEN037 and PEN009

Place Plan References:
3.07 Candidate sites above 1.6 hectares should be discounted as too large for the settlement. The Plan for 2030 section highlights the candidate sites the community believe should be assessed under the LDP - this does not represent part of this Plan, merely advisory and based on local knowledge. Nor does it represent an endorsement of any of the remaining sites.

3.02 The A550 Pen-y-fford bypass (constructed in 1986) does not represent the settlement boundary.


PEN041 School 5.71775
See PEN034


PEN043 Abbots Lane Fields (housing) 1.81334
Windfall potential (AMBER)

See PEN034

Place Plan References:
3.07 Candidate sites above 1.6 hectares should be discounted as too large for the settlement. The Plan for 2030 section highlights the candidate sites the community believe should be assessed under the LDP - this does not represent part of this Plan, merely advisory and based on local knowledge. Nor does it represent an endorsement of any of the remaining sites.

PEN044 Penyffordd School (mixed) 1.14844 (duplicate)
Windfall potential (AMBER)

See PEN031

See PEN031

Place Plan References:

3.07 Candidate sites above 1.6 hectares should be discounted as too large for the settlement. The Plan for 2030 section highlights the candidate sites the community believe should be assessed under the LDP - this does not represent part of this Plan, merely advisory and based on local knowledge. Nor does it represent an endorsement of any of the remaining sites.

Comments specific to Dobshill:

21.1 The disused Council depot site at Dobshill – DOB004 is already earmarked by the Council for development of 24 affordable homes. Dobshill should have no other growth aside from this Council development.

Place Plan References 3.08 Growth in Dobshill is limited to development of the brownfield former council depot only;  3.24 Dobshill depot needs to be reused for development or open space – it should not remain in the current state.

Appendix 1
Table 3
LDP Site Analysis

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penyffordd abandoned - we're on our own

The Redrow appeal resumes on Monday.
Redrow think they've got it in the bag.
Hawarden Road appeal is in January - Flintshire have pulled out - they are not going to represent us.

We're on our own.

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Redrow Appeal - one last chance!
If you have any spare time on Monday please show your face at the Legion - the resumption of the enquiry:

Monday 18th Dec 2017
9:30am - 7:00pm (latest)

We need as many people to sign the register and be seen in that room as possible during the day (you don't have to stay long, just as long as you can spare). We need to show that the village really care - so far we have told them that and they have seen fewer than 50 different faces.

If we lose Redrow then we have no chance against Hawarden Road, Vounog or Rhos Road - this matters to the whole village!

Hawarden Road Appeal - we've been abandoned

At the December planning committee, the last item was Hawarden Road - the committee had to vote on whether it was more in the public interest not to hear what was going to be said than it was in their interest to hear it. The microphones were switched off, the public and press asked to leave.

We don't know what was said, but we do know that the decision was taken for the Council not to contest the Hawarden Road appeal. 

That means that instead of a Barrister or Solicitor examining experts brought in by Flintshire to defend their reasons for refusal, there will be no one on the defence. Just the developer, their legal representatives and expert witnesses and us, as third-parties, to present the reasons why we believe the committee got it right.

Just a reminder - at the September committee, the planning committee, all except one who abstained, voted to refuse Hawarden Road. The planning department had recommended approval, but the committee spent close to 40 minutes telling them why the community were right and the planning department wrong. Behind closed doors they have been persuaded not to defend that decision. 

We are building our case now and we will share more information in the new year. The inquiry is on Tuesday 16th January 2018 at Theatre Clwyd (we have asked for it to be moved to the village).


 

 

The Whole Planning Process Explained - and what you can do

We have a number of people who, because of the Vounog application, are new to the planning process. Here is a quick explanation about how it works.

1. Preconsultation
Under current legislation the applicant has to perform a public consultation for a defined period. That's what is happening on the Vounog application now. The applicant has to evidence that they have performed this process. They do not have to listen to or engage with the public. It's not necessary for you to include details in your objections at this stage, but doesn't do any harm to object to the applicant.

2. Planning Officer
Once the applicant is ready, they submit the application to Flintshire County Council. There the application is assigned to a case officer. The application is opened for public consultation - there is then 28 days to formally object. 

The issues you raise must involve planning matters such as:

  • Impact on residential amenity (e.g. hours of use, loss of privacy, loss of light, over dominance, noise, traffic)
  • Impact on the character and appearance of an area (design, appearance and intensity)
  • Impact on highway safety (e.g. poor visibility, pedestrian safety, parking)
  • Impact on community facilities
  • Planning policies and proposals, or Government planning advice.

The planning officer will not take into account comments on the following types of concerns:

  • Personal characteristics of the applicant
  • The effect of the proposal on property values
  • Disturbances during building work
  • Loss of view
  • Private rights of way, private drains and other private easements and legal covenants
  • Disputes over land ownership
  • Commercial competition
  • Building Regulation issues (e.g. structural stability, drainage, fire precautions, hygiene and internal space).

However, if you know the land has drainage issues for example, then you should include this - we call these sorts of things 'noise' - they don't directly affect the planning decision but if enough people are making enough 'noise' then they get heard.

The job of the planning officer is to assess all the planning matters affecting it and whether it is compliant with policy and 'sustainable'. 

Our job is to explain which policies we believe it does not comply with and why, and also what harm will be done to the community or infrastructure if the application goes ahead.

When the planning officer has reviewed the case, including public comments and consultations with statutory bodies, then they make a recommendation to approve or refuse the application. In many applications they make the decision, on larger ones, our Councillors can request that it is decided at Committee.

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RHOS ROAD (NORTH CASE_ The planning officer recommended REFUSAL
REDROW CASE - The planning officer recommended REFUSAL
HAWARDEN ROAD CASE - The planning officer recommended APPROVAL
RHOS ROAD (SOUTH) CASE - We don't know yet
VOUNOG CASE - We don't know yet

3. Planning Committee
The planning committee sit once a month. They receive all the paperwork and are trained in planning policy but they are elected representatives and not planning professionals. They must take advice from the planning officer and the legal officer on each case. They listen to the planning officer's recommendation and then vote on whether they agree with it.

Our job is to lobby each of the committee members to persuade them that, irrespective of what the planning officer recommends, the application should be refused. Sometime the committee will go against the officer, but not often. If anyone contacts members of the planning committee directly, they must contact all of them with the same information - they cannot be seen to be prejudiced. The planning committee will come and visit the site prior to committee. We are not allowed to speak to them during this visit, but we can be very visible.

RHOS ROAD (NORTH) CASE -The committee REFUSED
REDROW CASE - The committee REFUSED
HAWARDEN ROAD CASE - The committee REFUSED

4. Appeal
If an application is refused, the applicant can appeal the decision. In Wales that means it goes to Welsh Government where an independent inspector is assigned the case. The inspector is a planning professional and they will review all the case notes, national and local policies, including public comments and the views of the statutory bodies. The will then decide whether to uphold the decision of the committee or override them and approve the application.

Sometimes they will approve with some conditions attached - as they did on Rhos Road. Where there are more than 150 houses in the development, the case automatically goes before the Welsh Minister for consideration. Inspectors should reach the same conclusion as the original case officer but that is not guaranteed.

RHOS ROAD (NORTH) CASE -The inspector granted PERMISSION with conditions
REDROW CASE - There is a Public Inquiry underway
HAWARDEN ROAD CASE - There is a Public Inquiry in January

5. Local Development Plan
Assuming a planning application has been refused after an appeal, there is still a risk that the site could be brought forward with another application, as long as the detail has changed sufficiently. The correct planning process is for land for development to be included in the Local Authorities Local Development Plan. Flintshire's is half done and there are lots of sites identified as 'candidate sites' - they will be consulted on in the next 18 months.

The only reason we are subject to all of these planning applications is because Flintshire's Local Development Plan is not ready (and won't be until mid-2020)

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All of the land currently subject to applications are candidate sites in the LDP process, except for Vounog. Though for some reason, Flintshire have reopened the candidate site register to invite more land and the site has now been submitted to the register.

Our only defence is our Community Development Plan or PLACE PLAN which sets out how we want the village to grow in the next 13 years - we need the support of the whole village to make sure that any development we have is proportionate to the size of the village.

Please please take a minute to sign up to the Place Plan now

Where Penyffordd features in Flintshire's LDP - Latest

Flintshire County Council have now published the next stage of their Local Development Plan 2015-2030. It sets out:

1. How many houses are needed
- 7,645 (509 houses per year)

2. How they should be distributed - Sustainably distributed across settlements according to the settlement hierarchy
(Main Service Centres; Local Service Centres; Sustainable Settlements - there are two lower categories but they will not be allocated for a share of the housing).
- Dobshill is an undefined settlement and can only expect housing on the old depot site.
- Penyffordd is the lowest of the three categories expected to get a share of the housing.

3. How much employment land is needed
- 8,000 to 10,000 new jobs
- 223 hectares of employment land
- includes two strategic sites one at Warren Hall including 300 homes and thousands of jobs

4. Candidate Sites Assessment
Crucially, it also includes an early assessment of 'Candidate Sites' and how individual sites conform with the strategic plan. 

We're not sure we fully understand the assessment criteria used and we are now reviewing all of the settlement to understand better the potential distribution of housing across Flintshire. 

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There are two sites in Penyffordd marked green - meaning they comply with the strategy. The Orange marked ones comply with the strategy but there are hurdles to be overcome to deliver them - it is not clear what they are - but these sites must still be considered possible at this stage. Finally, the red marked sites do not comply, typically because they do not connect with the settlement.

We will be assessing these sites against the Penyffordd Place Plan.

Finally, the Candidate Site register has been reopened and it is possible for new sites to be added now - we are aware of at least one new site on Vounog Hill which will be added.

You can view and comment on all of the documents being consulted on on Flintshire's website:

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Castle Cement Expansion - Approved

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The planning committee have approved the application for Hanson Cement to install a new vertical roller mill and rail loading facility.

You can view the committee webcast here: https://flintshire.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/311607

Although some residents were vocally opposed to the proposal, the Community Council, and Councillors were broadly accepting that newer, more efficient equipment resulting in reduced HGV traffic would be a good thing. There remain real concerns about emissions, noise and the continuous use of the older 'mothballed' mills at the same time.

Planning permission is just one part of the application process, Natural Resources Wales issue a permit for the operation and that is under review now and we are keen to ensure that they monitor the operation properly for the safety and comfort of the residents of Penyffordd.