LOCAL MEMBER: Councillor Rhys Tudur
Establishing a new touring caravan site (19 units) with a toilet block and associated works
Attention was drawn to the late observations form.
a) The Planning Manager explained that this was an application to change the use of agricultural land, to establish a touring caravan site for 19 units, extend the existing building to create a toilet block and associated work on land at Tŷ'n Lôn, Afonwen. The touring units would be sited around the boundaries of the field situated to the north-west of the property.
It was explained that a Planning Statement and summary statement about how the Welsh language would be considered had been submitted with the original application along with an Initial Ecological Impact Assessment, Botanical Survey and Badger Survey and that a Wildlife Mitigation Measures plan had been submitted at a later date. The original plans had been for a new toilet block, however, amended plans had been submitted (12 December 2022) which demonstrated a proposal to extend the existing garage building on the site to create a toilet/facilities block in its place.
The application had been submitted to the Planning Committee as the application site was greater than 0.5 hectares.
It was noted that the material planning policy for approving developments involving touring caravans was Policy TWR 5 of the Anglesey and Gwynedd Joint Local Development Plan (JLDP). It was explained that the policy outlined a series of criteria and there was reference to criterion 1 which stated that any new touring caravan development must be of a high quality in terms of design, setting and appearance and well hidden by the existing features of the landscape and / or in a place where touring units could be readily assimilated into the landscape in a way that did not cause significant harm to its visual quality.
It was reported that the proposed development would be located on a level field with mature trees along the boundaries and was therefore hidden from most public vantage points. It was reiterated that is was proposed to reinforce the screening on the site by planting a new hedge of native trees as the new western boundary to separate the caravan field from the wider field. This site was not within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or a Special Landscape Area and it was not believed that the development would cause significant harm to the quality of the landscape. The proposal was designed to meet the requirements of the licence in terms of space and facilities and therefore it was accepted that the development was up to standard.
It was noted that the second criteria of Policy TWR 5 required the avoidance of excessive areas of hard standing. In this case, no hard standings were shown for the caravans - the gravel track leading up the field from the entrance was the only hard standing and it was considered that the track could easily blend into the landscape. As no hard standings were shown, it was considered that it would be suitable to impose a condition that any hard standings should be restricted to the caravan pitches only.
In terms of the third criterion which required assurance that the site would only accommodate touring units, it was highlighted that this could be managed with a suitable planning condition.
In the context of general and residential amenities, based on the distance and the hidden nature of the field, it was not considered that the proposal would have a substantial detrimental impact or cause disruption to any nearby residents. It was considered that the proposal was acceptable in terms of Policy PCYFF 2 of the LDP that dealt with protecting the amenities of nearby land users.
In terms of transportation and access, it was noted that the entrance would not require alterations to serve the proposal. There had been no response from the Transportation Unit to the application.
It was noted that the Biodiversity Unit had confirmed that the reports submitted by the applicant (Botanical Survey, Badger Survey and Wildlife Mitigation Measures Plan) were of a good standard advising that the proposal should follow the mitigation measures and enhancements proposed.
Having considered all material planning matters, including local and national policies and guidance, as well as the observations received, it was considered that the proposal was acceptable and that it would not have a substantial harmful impact on the landscape, the amenities of the neighbourhood or road safety.
b) Taking advantage of the right to speak, the Local Member made the following points:
· That he opposed the application and agreed with the observations of the Community Council which 'Object on the grounds of over development and there are many caravan sites already along the coast.'
· Objected on the grounds of excess (there were similar sites nearby) and over tourism
· Although the report recommended approving, there was no consideration to nearby sites which led to an excess in the area. The report did not weigh up the impact.
· Needed to consider Policy TWR 3 in the LDP which noted the ability to prove that the proposal would not lead to an excess of caravan sites
· He referred to nearby sites outlining that they were not small sites
· There was a need to consider POLICY TAI 14: RESIDENTIAL USE OF CARAVANS which highlighted that it could be demonstrated that the proposal would not have a significant detrimental impact on the tourism industry. Needed to consider the argument that an excess of sites in a small area had a detrimental impact on what already existed
· Encouraged the Committee to refuse, but if they were considering approval, then he encouraged a decision to defer the decision to conduct a site visit and carry out research on the number of sites in the area.
In response to the observations, the Planning Manager noted that Policy TWR 3 applied to static caravan and chalet sites and permanent alternative camping accommodation while Policy TWR 5 applied to touring caravan, camping and temporary alternative camping accommodation. It was reiterated that Policy TWR 3 did refer to excess, but only in relation to static sites; Policy TWR 5 set out criteria for visual elements only.
Google Earth was used to highlight the aerial layout of the area to demonstrate the various sites within the application area. It was noted, compared with other areas in Gwynedd, such as Penllyn and Meirionnydd, that there was not an excess of touring sites in this area.
c) It was proposed to approve the application in accordance with the recommendation. It was not seconded.
ch) It was proposed and seconded to refuse the application on the grounds of excess and over tourism.
It was noted that although tourism could provide an economic boost in the local area it could be harmful to the environment and could put pressure on the local population - it could also create a negative impact on the experience for tourists - namely that too many people could visit somewhere at the same time.
It was reiterated that the proposal would be an over-development and would have an impact on local people and the Welsh language and that the cumulative impact on the area must be considered.
d) In response to a question regarding the apparent risk of flooding in the area and the concern that the site could be cut off, which was contrary to the rules of TAN 15, the Planning Manager noted that several different maps were used to highlight flood zones, and in the case of planning matters, TAN15 maps were used. It was considered that the area in question was not within a flood zone and therefore did not pose a risk. It was reiterated that the officers had consulted with Natural Resources Wales, and they had not raised any concerns about flooding.
In response to the Local Member’s suggestion to hold a site visit and to his, and the Community Council's concerns of there being an excess and the visual impacts of the site, he strongly suggested that the Committee considered a site visit to see the site in its context and its relevance to nearby sites.
dd) A proposal to undertake a site visit was made and seconded.
RESOLVED: To defer in order to conduct a site visit