The Vounog planning application is now open for comments.
If you have been following the other recent planning applications and decisions and you feel like it is a foregone conclusion that it will be granted permission, it is not. Please read on.
The Planning Process Explained
If you are new to the planning process, this is a quick overview of how it works:
1. The applicant pre-consults with residents and statutory bodies (e.g. water and highways)
2. The applicant submits the full planning application to the local authority. If the authority are happy that it is a valid application they will open it for a 28 day formal consultation (which is what is happening now).
3. The planning department review the case and make a recommendation to approve or refuse permission to the planning committee. This will only be based on the specific application and its compliance with local and national policies and other planning considerations.
4. The planning committee will debate and vote on whether to accept the planning departments recommendation.
5. If it is approved, then there is no right of appeal for residents. If it is refused then the applicant has a right of appeal and the case goes to the Planning Inspectorate where an independent planning inspector makes the final decision.
Why are there so many planning applications?
The whole planning system in Wales is built around 'Local Development Plans'. At the heart of those plans is land for housing. Each local authority has to be able to demonstrate that they have a 5-year supply of land.
Flintshire don't currently have a local plan or a 5-year land supply. Welsh Government policy (TAN1) has a 'presumption in favour of development' in these circumstances. That means that developers can submit applications on any land (not allocated as part of the local plan), as long as they are otherwise compliant with local and national policy. Because Flintshire's local plan is out of date the local policies don't seem to carry a lot of weight.
Why is Penyffordd such a target?
Because on paper it is a 'sustainable' location. We have a train station, we are close to the motorway network, we have buses, a pharmacy, churches, shops, a takeaway, a new school etc.
It doesn't seem to matter what these services and facilities are like in practice.
You need to write your objection in your own words, if you can make it person to you in some way that helps, and you can object about as many things as you like or just one that matters most to you. These are some of the valid objections you could make to this development:
OBJECTION 1 - NOT SUSTAINABLE
Both Castell Alun and Elfed secondary schools are oversubscribed in this years intake.
There is no pre-school in the village any more.
There are long delays getting a doctors appointment in both Hope and Buckley.
The 3a bus service has been removed
The 3 bus service no longer goes up Vounog
The Scouts are oversubscribed and there is a wait list for all age groups
The existing sewer and foul water system is over capacity through the village and regularly floods
The Internet connections are over-subscribed
If you have any personal experiences of any of these or other problems, then these can be your objection - personal stories make the greatest impact. We have heard of children having to go on to different schools from the same class because of a lack of spaces for example. What impact has the loss of bus services had on you getting to work, college or shops?
OBJECTION 2 - HOUSING MIX
There is a specific Flintshire UDP policy for this:
HSG9 Housing Mix and Type
This development contains:
6x 2 Bed
9x 3 Bed
22x 4 Bed
The applicant says that 11 of these will be affordable but doesn't say which ones.
There is no doubt that these are not intended for housing need in the village or surrounding area.
The consequence of yet more 4 bedroom detached properties is to bring more cars and car use - one of the main reasons for our reduction in bus services and contra to the Wellbeing goals for active travel.
OBJECTION 3 - OUTSIDE THE SETTLEMENT BOUNDARY
Flintshire Policy STR1 (which directs new development to land within settlement boundaries or allocated areas and only permits development in the open countryside where it is essential to have it there).
GEN3 (which does not permit development outside settlement boundaries or allocated areas except in certain circumstances, none of which are applicable in this case)
HSG4 (which does not permit housing development outside settlement boundaries unless it is essential it be located outside a settlement, and none of the circumstances are applicable to this case).
Clearly with 2 applications already approved for 32 and 40 houses outside of the Penyffordd settlement boundary, there is not an essential need for further development in our community at this time.
OBJECTION 4 - OVERDEVELOPMENT
Flintshire Policy STR4 sought to provide for the housing needs of the County through a settlement hierarchy comprising category A (urban centres), B (semi urban/main villages) and C (rural/small villages). Penyffordd is a Category B settlement, described as “with a good nucleus of facilities, easily accessible by public transport and which have some potential for growth (8% - 15%).
Since 2000 Penyffordd has grown from 1,340 houses to 1,830 houses built or with planning approval - 490 new houses - growth of 37%, rather than the 8-15% recommended.
We are still awaiting decisions on the two other outstanding applications - 186 houses on Chester Road and 36 dwellings on Rhos Road.
OBJECTION 5 - AGRICULTURAL LAND
The applicant has submitted a report demonstration that the land is classified as 66% category 3b land and 33% category sub-3a land. We know that the land has been farmed for generations by the same family, previously with crop and most recently for grazing.
Welsh national planning policy is clear on the hierarchy of land for development because 'land is a finite resource' and open countryside and agricultural land should be the last to be considered for development.
OBJECTION 6 - LOSS OF AMENITY
Everyone in the village describes this land as 'sledging hill'. It has been used for sledging for generations and the farmers have opened the gate to allow it for generations. The absent landlord, via their land agent make this reference to its use for sledging in their consultation report:
" Any use of the land for winter recreation is not authorised by the landowner and is therefore unlawful."
If you have every sledged on that hill, then write and tell the planning authority how good it is to laugh with people you don't know, to share time in the open with your family and friends, to feel the cold together and have fun. Share your pictures on social media - we will collect them together and send them in.
If, as a consequence of this application, the sledging field is lost either because of housing being built or of a vindictive absentee landowner, it will be a great loss to this community, because there is no alternative place to sledge.
OBJECTION 7 - LANDSCAPE AND VISUAL IMPACT
The applicant has submitted a Landscape assessment which suggests that there will be no visual impact as a result of the development. If you do not agree, then you need to say so and explain why.
WHAT NOT TO OBJECT ABOUT
The planning authority cannot 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
Building Regulation issues (e.g. structural stability, drainage, fire precautions, hygiene and internal space).
WHAT YOU CAN OBJECT ABOUT
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.
HOW TO OBJECT
Email your comments to:
firstname.lastname@example.org. As stated below, you must include certain information in your email.
Write to us at:
Head of Planning, Environment Directorate, County Hall, Mold, Flintshire, CH7 6NF.
You must include the following information in your letter. Failure to do so may result in your comments not being taken into account.
- Site address of application: Land East Of Vounog Hill Penyffordd
- Description of proposal: Outline application for residential development
- Application number: 058164
- Your name
- Your address
- Your comments about the proposal
Submit your comments online:
If you are weary of all of the planning applications or don't see the point in objecting because it will have no effect then please say that. The very first part of Planning Policy Wales describes the need for a 'well functioning planning system' - clearly that is not the case in Penyffordd.
Strutt and Parker admitted that the landowner had decided to 'have a go' at getting planning permission because of the state of the planning system and the presumption in favour of development. The Hawarden Road applicant also admitted that they had decided not to wait for the Local Plan process in fear of missing out on the bonanza.
If you don't like it, let the people who oversee it know:
Andrew Farrow is Chief Officer in charge of planning at Flintshire:
Lesley Griffiths AM/AC is the Welsh Minister in charge of planning at Welsh Government
Jack Sergeant AM is our Welsh Assembly Member
Mark Tami MP is our MP