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Ancient woodland concern over Guilsfield plan

Created on 05/10/2019 @ 09:24
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Permission to build a holiday cabin near Guilsfield has been given by councillors, but only in theory with the applicants will having to wait for the Welsh Government to give them the green light.

Councillors on Powys County Council’s (PCC) planning committee were told that the Welsh Government Minister of Housing and Local Government, Julie James AM, had been asked to “call in the application” for Llidiart Wood, Laundry Lane, Moelygarth, near Guilsfield, due to concerns over its location in ancient woodland.

The planning committee was supposed to decide the application but had been directed by the minister to withhold granting permission.

Councillors were informed that the Minister will read the officer’s report on the application before deciding whether or not to take over the process by calling the application in, and making the decision herself.

Planning committee solicitor, Colin Edwards, explained: “The direction prevents the authority from determining and granting permission. Planning is granted when it is signed and issued.

“The proposal today, if you agree, would be to say that you are minded to grant permission.”

Mr Edwards added that the professional lead (planning officer) in consultation with the chairman (Cllr Karl Lewis) and vice-chairman (Cllr E. Michael Jones) would grant the decision after PCC has “heard from (the) Welsh Government.

The applicant wanted to build the cabin to provide accommodation for tourists.

It had been argued that the cabin was justified due to its closeness to Powis Castle and even nearby public pathways. But this was described by Cllr Elwyn Vaughan as “tenuous” and could “set a precedent” for applications at ancient woodlands.

Principal planning officer Gemma Bufton said: “It has been considered by the county ecologist that the proposal would not result in the loss or deterioration of ancient woodland.”

Cllr Gwilym Williams said: “Having first looked at this it seemed a straight forward application, but at closer inspection there are concerns. I’ve not seen a Minister do this on an application since I’ve been here. I also thought that you couldn’t do anything with an ancient woodland.”

Cllr Linda Corfield said: “There are two structures already there. This is classed as ancient woodland but to me I don’t see any mature trees of great girth. By and large they don’t look much more than saplings really.

“This construction will only have one bedroom, so I don’t have any problem with it.”

After nearly an hour and 20 minutes, discussing the proposal, Cllr E Michael Jones said: “I think we have a fall-back position.

“If we are minded to approve this application, it will be considered by Welsh Government and if they are not happy with the situation, it can be called in. I would be happy to move it to test the meeting.”

The application was passed by 15 votes to four.

Earlier Guilsfield Cllr David Jones had spoken in favour of the application while two people had raised objections.

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter
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