Conversion of outbuilding to provide an affordable dwelling, together with alterations to existing vehicular access, installation of a package treatment plant and associated works
LOCAL MEMBER: Councillor Gareth Williams
DECISION: To approve subject to receiving a further report on the affordability of the house
Conversion of outbuilding to provide an affordable dwelling, together with alterations to existing vehicular access, installation of a package treatment plant and associated works.
a) The Development Control Team Leader highlighted that this was an application to covert an existing outbuilding (formerly a dwelling house) into an affordable house with two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen diner and creating a garden near the building. It was explained that it was proposed to retain the main structure of the building but to demolish the walls of the associated outbuildings and erect single-storey extensions on the side and rear of the main structure. It was reported that the site was in a rural area (far from any development boundary defined by the LDP), within a Special Landscape Area and the Llŷn and Bardsey Island Landscape of Outstanding Historical Interest, and partly within the Caerau Regional Wildlife Site.
The application was submitted to the Committee at the local member’s request.
The officer elaborated that the site was outside any development boundary as identified under policy PCYFF 1 of the LDP where it is noted, outside development boundaries, that the proposals will be refused unless they are in accordance with the specific policy in the Plan. In this case, although the proposal was to convert an existing outbuilding, there was doubt whether this structure could be considered as a "building" rather than the ruin of a former dwelling.
It was highlighted that a structural report had been submitted as part of the application, alleging that the existing walls were structurally sound and suitable to be retained without the need for significant rebuilding, and it is also noted that it would not be necessary to rebuild more than 10% of the area of the original walls. In assessing the report, it was reported that considerable doubt remained regarding the suitability of the building's structure for conversion or whether the work associated with the development would equate to erecting a new house in the countryside, contrary to the requirements of policy PCYFF 1 of the LDP.
On the grounds of the assessment, even should it be accepted that the traditional building in the countryside was suitable for conversion into a dwelling house, it was not considered that the proposal complied with one of the specific criteria for such developments as listed in policy TAI 7 of the LDP. Although it was acknowledged that the applicant needed an affordable house and that the general design of the building was of good quality, due to the rural location, the derelict nature of the existing site and the number of changes intended to be done to the structure, there was no choice but to recommend refusing the application.
b) Taking advantage of the right to speak, the applicant noted the following observations:
· That she wished to continue to live in Llangwnnadl but that house prices in the local area and vicinity were far beyond her reach.
· That there was no affordable house in her home area and so the options were limited.
· She was lucky that her parents owned land with an old house situated on it that would give her an opportunity to stay in the local area and bring up a family, continue working in her job and continue to help her parents on the farm and her grandmother with the caravan park.
· The old house had been a home to a number of families in Llangwnnadl until the early 1960s.
· There was no intention to make major changes to the site - only make it a suitable affordable house to live in and make it her first home.
· The majority of houses in Llangwnnadl were holiday homes and second homes.
· It was a real shame that it was so difficult for a local person to have a home on her family's land where a house had previously been located.
c) Taking advantage of the right to speak, the Local Member made the following points:
· The member disagreed with the statement that this was an outbuilding - it was not a cattle shed or a garage, but rather a house that had been a home until it had become empty in the 60s.
· Substantial work was needed and the roof had collapsed, but the walls and the chimneys highlighted the shape of the house.
· 90% of the structure's walls were suitable.
· An application (2 miles from the site) had been granted permission to demolish and completely rebuild - this was a matter of refurbishment and creating two bedrooms - an ideal home for an individual
· Demolishing the structure would lose its character - this was not the intention here, despite that being the cheaper option! The aim was to retain character, restore the walls, build an extension in the back and to the side and provide basic interior space.
· When converting, one had to work with what was available and the thickness of the walls here reduced the size of the space
· Caerau was not visible from the road - it was surrounded by natural and mature cloddiau.
· This was not a business venture - this was an application for an affordable house
· It was a serious situation if evidence of it being marketed as a holiday unit was required - this would allow someone to have a second home
· Houses for local people were needed.
· Staying local would make a local's girl's dreams come true - would address the need for an affordable house and she would be prepared to accept a 106 condition.
· Her father owned the land and was a builder.
· In light of the housing crisis, the Council had a duty to support local people.
d) A proposal was made to approve the application and it was seconded.
e) During the ensuing discussion, the following observations were made by members:
· The building had served as a home until the 60s - not as a shed
· This was an opportunity to refurbish a house in light of the crisis in respect of the lack of houses for local people.
· 'Economic evidence' - the applicant had the right to live in her home area.
· 90% of the walls were viable in order to restore the building.
· There was a need to look for opportunities to regenerate an area and enrich the landscape of Pen Llŷn.
· There was a desire to retain the character of the house - this was not a business venture but rather an affordable house for a young girl
· The application protected its character, the language and kept young people local
· The house was a part of the farm - this responded to the 'economic' element.
· The application merited attention - were the policies fit for purpose?
· The application encouraged a discussion.
In response to a question about a 106 agreement, the Planning Manager noted, although the application was for an affordable house, that no open market value in order to determine a discount, had been received. It was reiterated that the floor area was greater than what was permissible in the LDP and although the comment about the thick walls was accepted, it was the size of the interior that was measured.
In response to the comment about 'outbuilding', the Head of Legal Services noted that this was the legal status of the building which had lost its use rights as a house. With the house standing empty since the 60s, it had to be accepted that the use as a house had now ceased. In response, it was suggested that some flexibility could be exercised with the description and that every application should be discussed on its own merits.
In response to a comment that there was a lack of evidence on the proposal's viability as an affordable house and the need for this information before proceeding, the Assistant Head noted that the property's open market value had to be obtained to address the affordable housing principles. In response to a supplementary comment, in terms of requiring the open market value rather than the labour value (considering that the building was located on the family's land), it was confirmed that the open market value was needed. Should a decision be made to approve, a 106 agreement would have to be in place for the proposal, and although the applicant had agreed to that, the discount would have to be considered.
RESOLVED: To approve subject to receiving a further report on the affordability of the house