A controversial planning application for a 300-home housing estate in Blackwood has been turned down by councillors.
Caerphilly Council’s planning committee voted to reject the Persimmon Homes development at Grove Park because the proposed site is located beyond settlement boundaries identified within the local development plan.
Concerns over the loss of a greenfield site, traffic congestion and pressure on schools and local services had been expressed at a previous meeting on October 10.
But the decision was deferred until Wednesday, November 7, which saw more than 100 residents pack into the council chamber and outside in the Penallta House foyer to watch the meeting.
Council officers said the issue regarding the site being outside settlement boundaries was the only reason for refusal they could support.
The other issues had been raised without “reasonable evidence” according to officers and Persimmon’s managing director Martin Smith.
Between the two meetings, Mr Smith had written to council leader Dave Poole saying there was a “strong case” for an appeal – and costs against the authority – if the application was refused.
Tim Stephens, the council’s development control manager, said: “If we refuse it on highways grounds, we will be vulnerable to very high costs. It’s not a threat as such, it’s a reality.”
The committee was also warned that even if the Planning Inspectorate ruled in their favour on the boundaries issue, costs could still be made on other grounds that were unsupported by evidence.
Councillor Mike Davies said he would support the recommendation to refuse the plans on the single issue “with reluctance”, a proposal backed by most of the committee.
It is likely that an appeal will be lodged by the developer, but Blackwood’s councillors are prepared to speak against any case that goes before the Planning Inspectorate.
Councillor Andrew Farina-Childs said after the meeting: “This is the best result we could have hoped for.
“The three ward councillors will speak on behalf of the residents and we will be encouraging residents to write to the Planning Inspectorate.”
Councillor Nigel Dix was pleased the committee had “pushed back” against pressure from Persimmon and listened to the “reasonable” arguments put forward by council officers.
“It’s pleasing to see a committee that will listen to the people and one that won’t be cajoled to change their decision,” he said.
Councillor Kevin Etheridge added: “People power wins the day.”
Persimmon were approached for comment.