Planning Permissions granted for new agricultural development, and, for the creation of a new "Rural Enterprise Dwelling" in conjunction with the running of "Mellowcroft" agricultual smallholding in Llangedley, Powys.
With this project the client contacted En-Plan due to an ongoing Planning Enforcement case against the use of the farm buildings. The client also wanted to reside on the site and create a family home but was still fighting the planners on the use of the farm buildings and the access to the the smallholding located in the heart of Powys and it's truly stunning landscpae.
The history and landscape of Powys
The history of Powys is rich and varied, spanning thousands of years. The region has been inhabited since prehistoric times, with evidence of human activity dating back to the Paleolithic era.The area that is now Powys was inhabited by Celtic tribes, such as the Cornovii and Ordovices, during the Iron Age. They established hillforts and lived in tribal communities. The Romans invaded Britain in the 1st century AD and established a network of forts and roads throughout the region. Powys was part of the Roman province of Britannia and was influenced by Roman culture and governance. After the Roman withdrawal from Britain, the Kingdom of Powys emerged as a powerful Welsh kingdom during the Early Middle Ages. It was one of the largest and most influential kingdoms in Wales, encompassing much of the central and eastern parts of the country. Powys was divided into several smaller territories, including Powys Fadog, Powys Wenwynwyn, and Powys Powys. In the 11th century, the Normans invaded Wales, and the Marcher Lords, appointed by the English crown, established control over the border regions. Powys became a frontier area between England and Wales, experiencing conflicts and power struggles between the Welsh princes and the English rulers. During the 13th and 14th centuries, the Welsh princes, such as Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and Owain Glyndŵr, led revolts against English rule. Powys was often caught in the crossfire of these conflicts, with the Welsh asserting their independence and the English attempting to maintain control. Following the English conquest of Wales in the late 13th century, Powys gradually came under English administration and was incorporated into the English legal and administrative systems. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Powys experienced significant changes due to the Industrial Revolution. The region saw the growth of industries such as ironworks, coal mining, and textiles, particularly in the eastern areas. With the establishment of county boundaries in 1974, Powys became a unitary authority in Wales. Today, Powys is known for its rural beauty, tourism, agriculture, and preservation of its historical heritage. Throughout its history, Powys has been influenced by the interaction of Welsh and English cultures, conflicts between local lords and rulers, and the economic and social changes brought about by industrialization. The region's history is reflected in its architecture, landmarks, and cultural traditions, making it a fascinating area to explore for history enthusiasts.
The Powys landscape refers to the diverse and picturesque scenery found in the county of Powys, Wales. Powys is the largest county in Wales, covering a significant portion of central and eastern Wales. It is known for its rural beauty, with vast expanses of rolling hills, lush valleys, rivers, and charming market towns.
The landscape of Powys is characterized by its natural beauty and tranquility. The county is home to three national parks: Snowdonia National Park in the northwest, Brecon Beacons National Park in the south, and the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the northeast. These protected areas showcase the stunning and varied terrain found in Powys. In the northern part of Powys, you'll find the rugged peaks and dramatic landscapes of Snowdonia National Park. Here, towering mountains, deep valleys, and sparkling lakes dominate the scenery. Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales, is a popular destination for hikers and climbers. Moving southwards, you enter the Brecon Beacons National Park, known for its expansive moorland, rolling hills, and picturesque valleys. The Brecon Beacons themselves are a range of mountains that offer breathtaking views and excellent opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. Throughout Powys, you'll encounter charming market towns and villages nestled in the valleys and along the riverbanks. Towns like Hay-on-Wye, famous for its annual literary festival and numerous bookshops, and Llangollen, known for its picturesque canal and international music festival, add to the unique character of the Powys landscape. The rivers Wye, Severn, and Dee flow through Powys, creating beautiful valleys and offering opportunities for water-based activities such as kayaking, fishing, and leisurely riverside walks. Overall, the Powys landscape is a stunning mix of mountains, valleys, rivers, and charming settlements, offering a rich tapestry of natural beauty and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Saving the Smallholding
Initially En-Plan submitted a planning application for the use of the five existing buildings on site as agricultural and the continued use of the existing access.
In their planning assessmnet the Council reviewed the nature of the proposed development which is retrospective in nature and taking into account my knowledge of the site in light of previous applications it was considered that the proposals outlined in the current application would not result in negative impacts to or loss of biodiversity at the site or in the wider environment. The Council's Ecologist did recommend that a condition was included to secure adherence to the submitted Waste Management Plan, and given the rural location of the site recommended that a condition was included to ensure that any external lighting installed on the agricultural buildings is appropriate and would not result in negative impacts to biodiversity including any wildlife foraging or commuting in the local area.
The application site also included a composting toilet to facilitate any workers on the Land. Environmental Health were consulted and whilst they considered the use of composting toilets to be acceptable in principle they requitred additonal information in relation to the management of the waste and its storage. Additional information was provided in respect of the compost toilet facilities which also indicated an area for the spreading of the compost. The Environmental Health officer was re-consulted on the additional information and confirmed that they have no objection to the proposed development.
In light of the above and subject to conditions ensuring the management of the waste in line with the details as submitted the Council considered the proposed development fundamentally complies with relevant planning policy and approval was granted.
The Application for a Rural Enterprise Dwelling
In order to give some context to the next planning application we need to first understand what a rural enterprise dwelling is. In Wales, a rural enterprise dwelling refers to a type of residential property that is specifically designated for individuals or families who are engaged in agricultural or rural-based businesses. These dwellings are intended to provide accommodation for those who require close proximity to their agricultural or rural enterprises to operate effectively. The concept of rural enterprise dwellings was introduced to support and promote rural economic development in Wales. It recognizes the importance of maintaining and sustaining agricultural and rural industries by providing suitable housing options for those involved in these sectors. To qualify as a rural enterprise dwelling, certain criteria must typically be met. These criteria may vary slightly depending on the specific policies and regulations of the local planning authority in Wales. The applicant must demonstrate a genuine need for the dwelling in connection with their agricultural or rural enterprise. This may include factors such as the need for on-site management of livestock, regular monitoring of crops, or the requirement for immediate access to agricultural land. The proposed dwelling should be situated within or adjacent to the land or premises associated with the agricultural or rural business. This ensures that the dwelling is conveniently located to support the day-to-day operations of the enterpriseThe applicant must provide evidence that the agricultural or rural business is economically viable and contributes to the local rural economy. This may include business plans, financial statements, or other relevant documents. Rural enterprise dwellings are often subject to specific design and scale requirements to ensure they are in harmony with the rural surroundings and do not have a negative impact on the landscape.
It's important to note that planning permission is typically required to establish a rural enterprise dwelling in Wales. The local planning authority reviews applications based on the criteria mentioned above and other relevant planning policies. By facilitating the provision of housing for individuals and families involved in rural enterprises, rural enterprise dwellings aim to support the sustainability and growth of agriculture and rural industries in Wales while preserving the rural character of the landscape.
With the structures now saved En-Plan were able to formulate an planning application for a rural enterprise dwelling in order for the applicant to be able to reside at his smallholding and give him the home he so greatly deserved. The Council in considering the principle of the proposed development, consideration is given to Planning Policy Wales (ed. 10, 2018), Technical Advice Note 6 - Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities (2010) and Technical Advice Note 23 - Economic Development (2014) and the adopted Powys LDP (2018), in particular policy TD1.
The revised PPW (ed. 10) places emphasis on the consideration of sustainability in the planning process and this includes re-use, reducing waste and the efficient use of land. Paragraph 5.11.7 promotes the use of existing buildings wherever possible. Paragraph 3.51 says previously developed land should, wherever possible, be used in preference to greenfield sites where it is suitable for development.
Section 5.6 states that a strong rural economy is essential to support sustainable and vibrant rural communities. The establishment of new enterprises and the expansion of existing business is crucial to the growth and stability of rural areas. Paragraph 5.6.6 encourages planning authorities to adopt a positive approach to the conversion of rural buildings for business re-use.
The adopted Powys LDP supports and reflects this national planning policy framework. The LDP identifies in its Key Issues and Considerations at Section 2.4 the importance of tourism to the local economy. Furthermore, in paragraph 3.2.29 it supports the re-use of rural buildings for economic and residential purposes where justified. In addition, paragraph 4.1.5 reiterates the position of the LDP in relation to the national policy framework outlined above saying, “No specific policy is included on the re-use / adaptation of rural buildings, or on agricultural development, because PPW, TAN 6 and TAN 23 provide adequate policy. The Council has not prioritised economic reuses above other uses and supports a flexible approach to re-use and adaptation of rural buildings.” Having carefully consider the above policy framework, Officers consider that the principle of the proposed development is acceptable subject to all other material considerations being satisfied.
In accordance with LDP policy DM13, development proposals will only be permitted where the development has been designed to complement and/or enhance the character of the surrounding area in terms of siting, appearance, integration, scale, height, massing, and design detailing.
The former welfare building, is a flat roof building, cladded externally with timber horizontal boarding. The building already benefits from a number of existing window and door openings which will be retained and utilised throughout the conversion. The building is ‘L’ shape in design and no new extensions or alterations are proposed as part of this scheme.
It is therefore considered that the existing building will utilise all existing openings and proposes no physical alternation to the external appearance of the building. On this basis it is duly considered that the character and appearance of the existing building will be retained during the conversion of the building, complying with relevant planning policy.
The Council noted that as part of this application consent is sought to utilise a new access for the site at Mellowcroft. The existing access due to its location does not have sufficient visibility splay either direction and therefore it is proposed to utilise an existing access to the south of the application site. The access will be approached from the west of the application site where an existing track over private land will be utilised with an access then which joins onto the A44 County Highway (existing).
The Highway Authority were consulted and has confirmed that the proposed access whilst also substandard in terms of its visibility, still provides a visibility of approximately 70 metres to the south-east and 170 metres to the north-east. The Highway Authority have therefore confirmed that the new access would represent a betterment to the existing situation and therefore subject to the existing access being stopped up permanently from use they would have no objection to the proposed development.
In terms of biodiversity enhancements the Council noted that a new residential curtilage will be created around the proposed building and it is recommended that this boundary is planted utilising native species to enhance wildlife within this area and to also provide a form of landscaping to the residential curtilage area. This will be secured via an appropriately worded condition requesting for a full landscaping scheme to be provided prior to the first use of the building.
Subject to an appropriately worded conditions the Council considered that the proposed development would fundamentally comply with relevant planning policy and approval was granted.
Alterations to the Approved Access
En-Plan have continued to provide support to tthe owner and have assisted in further work concerning highways and access issues. En-Plan submitted an application for non-material amendments to planning permission 19/1602/FUL in respect of continued use of the existing farm entrance to serve the approved rural enterprise unit.
Section 96A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 allows an amendment to be made to an existing or extant planning permission via a simplified application procedure providing that the proposed amendment does not materially alter the consented scheme.
Paragraph 2.6 of The Planning Guidance-Approving Non Material Amendments states that when assessing and determining whether or not a proposed change would qualify as a non-material amendment, Local Planning Authorities may consider the following tests:
• Is the scale of the proposed change great enough to cause an impact different to that caused by the original approved development scheme?
• Would the proposed change result in a detrimental impact either visually or in terms of local amenity?
• Would the interests of any third party or body be disadvantaged in planning terms?
• Would the proposed change conflict with national or development plan policies?
The Council conceded that the removal of condition 4 from planning permission 19/1602/FUL would not cause any change in scale to the scheme previously approved. The access to be retained is an existing access previously used. Therefore, it is not considered the scale of this change would cause any significant impact different to that of the originally approved scheme and is therefore considered acceptable. The proposed change would not visually alter the development. This access is existing and is sought to be retained.
It is therefore considered that the proposed changes will not detrimentally impact the scheme visually or in regard to the amenity on the area than previously considered.
It was considered the proposed alteration would not disadvantage any third party or body in planning terms. The access is existing and is sought to be retained and therefore would not be considered to cause an impact different to that previously considered through the determination of previous consents.
The additional information submitted by the applicant was reviewed by the Highway Authority and the contents duly noted as the Highways Authority do acknowledge, that the proposed dwelling will be tied directly to the land and as a result, the traffic generated by the development would not likely result in a significant increase in traffic using the existing constrained access. Whilst the HA maintain that there are considerable clear benefits to using the Llandegley Rhos access, it does acknowledge given the status of the development, that an objection on highway safety grounds could not reasonably be sustained in this instance. To conclude, based on the above, the Highway Authority did not object to the removal of condition 4 of permission 19/1602/FUL. Given the above response, it is not considered that the removal of condition 4 from planning consent 19/1602/FUL would conflict with any national or local planning policy. The proposed amendments mean existing access arrangements of the site are retained which PCC Highways do not object to.
The application site is also located wholly within the freshwater catchment of the River Wye Special Area of Conservation (SAC). Under the Habitats Regulations, where a plan or project is likely to have a significant effect on a European site, either alone or in combination with other plans or projects, and where it is not directly connected with or necessary to the management of the site (previously designated pursuant to EU retained law) the competent authority must carry out an appropriate assessment of the implication of the plan or project in view of the site’s conservation objectives. Natural Resources Wales has set new phosphate standards for the river SACs in Wales. Any proposed development within the SAC catchments that might increase the amount of phosphate within the catchment could lead to additional damaging effects to the SAC features and, therefore, such proposals must be screened through a HRA to determine whether they are likely to have a significant effect on the SAC condition.
This application was screened in accordance with Natural Resources Wales’ advice for planning applications affecting phosphorus sensitive river Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) (updated 26th May 2021). It was considered that this development is unlikely to increase phosphate inputs.
On the basis of the above observations, the Council considered that the removal of condition 4 attached to planning permission 19/1602/FUL is acceptable and proposed development remains in accordance with the listed planning policies.
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