Plans to build up to 300 homes have been rejected by Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Planning Committee.
Persimmon Homes had submitted an application for a development on land off Beaumaris Way in Grove Park, near Cefn Fforest. The developer wants to build a range of two, three and four-bedroom houses on the 9.72-hectare site, with a new access road built from Heol Pit-Y-Ceiliogod and Beaumaris Way.
A planning report considered by councillors on Wednesday, October 10, had recommended the development be approved, pending a section 106 agreement which would have seen Persimmon pay £220,000 towards a residents’ travel scheme to encourage less car use. This was despite the fact the development was outside the local settlement area.
Faced with strong local opposition members of the Planning Committee went against the officers’ recommendations and deferred the application to refuse it at its next meeting.
On the committee, Plaid Cymru councillor Mike Davies moved to refuse the application, and said: “I feel strongly that this is unnecessary to take up green spaces where ground is available elsewhere.”
Plaid councillor John Taylor added: “I don’t think creating a new settlement of 300 houses outside development boundaries is acceptable.”
Labour councillor Tom Williams said schools and GP surgeries nearing capacity would struggle with the new development, adding: “We are here to represent the people and the people don’t want this.”
Blackwood Independent councillors Kevin Etheridge, Nigel Dix and Andrew Farina-Childs all addressed the committee on Wednesday.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Dix, who helped campaign on behalf of residents against the development, had called for the committee to reject the application after the Welsh Government suspended a controversial policy called TAN 1. If still active, the policy would have favoured developers appeal.
Cllr Dix said: “I would firstly like to thank the residents of Grove Park for their support – which has been fantastic.
“The suspension of TAN 1 has allowed the committee to look at each application on its merits, rather than nodding through applications simply because they would be overturned by the Planning Inspectorate.
“Lesley Griffiths, Secretary for Planning and Rural Affairs, recognised this, saying that sites not included in local development plans are generating uncertainty for communities.
The committee members recognised the Grove park application was speculative, that the site is outside of settlement and not in the current Local Development Plan and would see the destruction of green fields.
“Committee members have shown they will not be cajoled into making decisions. Residents and ward members will be watching to ensure there is no back sliding.”
More than 150 people had signed a petition against the development.
Martin Smith, Managing Director at Persimmon Homes East Wales, said: “We are obviously disappointed that this application has been deferred for refusal. We are currently considering our options about the best way forward.
“We reject the reasons for refusal and we maintain that this site is in compliance with the council’s LDP policies for the Northern Connection Corridor. We have worked hard with planning officers to help deliver an exemplar scheme which will provide much-needed houses, including 75 affordable houses, to this area.”
He added: “This site is highly sustainable, well served by public transport and its accessibility would be further enhanced by proposed bus, pedestrian and cycle facilities which would be delivered as part of the development.
“The development represents a total investment of over £30 million by Persimmon Homes. This would generate 60 direct jobs per year of construction, and 91 indirect jobs.
“Council Tax Receipts would increase by £375,300 per annum, and there would be an expected CIL contribution of £500,000.
“Furthermore, it is expected that over £1,500,000 would be spent in the local economy by customers on first occupation – on new fixtures, fittings, furnishings, etc.”