APPLICATION NO. 22/2020/0735/PF - LAND ADJACENT TO HENDRERWYDD FARM, HENDRERWYDD, DENBIGH
- Meeting of Planning Committee, Wednesday, 10 November 2021 9.30 am (Item 5.)
- View the declarations of interest for item 5.
To consider an application for the erection of a rural enterprise dwelling, installation of a private treatment plant and associated works at land adjacent to Hendrerwydd Farm, Hendrerwydd, Denbigh (copy attached).
An application was submitted for the erection of a rural enterprise dwelling, installation of a private treatment plant and associated works at land adjacent to Hendrerwydd Farm, Hendrerwydd, Denbigh.
Public Speaker –
Ian Jones (For) – provided some background history in terms of his family’s long standing residence at the farm and dairy farming with the business having gained organic status in 2006 offering high standards and sustainability, and highlighted the number of dairy farms had reduced due to the stringent criteria. Planning permission had been sought to provide on-site quality accommodation for a Dairy Herd Manager with the 2 bedroom holiday-let cottage unsuitable for that purpose.
General Debate – Councillor Huw Williams (Local Member) had requested the application be referred to the Committee to discuss the principle of the proposal and need for an additional dwelling to support the farm enterprise. He reported upon the success of the business and its importance in terms of future sustainability and the environmental agenda which should be supported, and would also provide a dwelling to meet those needs and benefit the community. Most of the TAN 6 tests had been met and the proposed siting of the dwelling had been explained given the limitations on other areas of the farm complex. He urged members to grant consent.
Councillor Merfyn Parry provided some further context advising that it was a progressive farm which had made necessary changes to become organic, detailing the work involved in operating the business and ensuring animal welfare. Planning tests had justified the need for an additional dwelling for a farm worker. With regard to concerns regarding the distance of the proposed dwelling from the farm complex, the reasoning behind the location had been justified in terms of the constraints of land not being in the Applicant’s ownership; location of the gas pipeline and flood risk. Councillor Parry did not consider the size of the proposed dwelling to be excessive and in response to officers’ suggestion of possible use of the holiday let, advised of the housing arrangements proposed by the Applicant with a view to attracting a high calibre of applicant for the role who had a requirement to live on-site and formed part of the recruitment package. The 2 bedroom holiday let/cottage would not attract a modern family to the employment and the intention was to use it as a holiday let or temporary workforce if needed – there were no other suitable properties available in the locality. Consequently, he believed the application did pass the criteria for TAN 6 and proposed the application be granted, seconded by Councillor Mark Young. Councillor Young also asked whether it was usual practice in these circumstances, given the welfare needs of the animals could be better met on-site, for a farm worker to reside a mile away as referred to in the report.
Officers confirmed that there was no dispute in terms of the need for a second dwelling for a farm worker and that the issue focused on whether all other options had been explored in terms of alternative accommodation before granting permission to build a new dwelling in the open countryside. Officers considered the existing holiday let structure annexed to the farmhouse to be suitable and available for that purpose – if not in its current form then through conversion. The Council’s Consultants had suggested potential suitable dwellings within one mile of the site but members’ may take a different view and there were no specific examples which mirrored the current application to point to. Councillor Mark Young responded that it was usual practice for agricultural workers to reside on-site as evidenced on other farms in the county and previous permissions granted which he believed to be better for both animal and staff welfare and the environment.
Members debated the merits of the application and Councillor Parry put forward further arguments regarding the inadequacies of the holiday let accommodation, both in terms of recruitment/attracting staff and its conversion potential. Reference was also made to its separate use as a holiday let and its potential use for temporary staff during busy periods. Councillor Brian Jones referred to the climate change agenda with reference to organic farming and highlighted the need to promote that agenda whilst accepting that there were clear barriers to progressing those ambitions given current planning policies/considerations, and work was needed to ensure a more cohesive approach. Officers responded to the issues raised advising that issues around furthering the organic farming industry and the existing holiday let not being suitable for the calibre of staff to be recruited were not material planning considerations and there must be robust planning reasons to depart from planning policy and withstand legal challenge. The finance from the holiday let was not part of the business proposal or application and if members were minded to grant the application a condition could be imposed to restrict the occupation of the dwelling to a farm worker. The test showed a functional need for two farm workers to be living on-site and consequently there was no justification to keep the holiday-let cottage in reserve for the potential convenience of additional albeit temporary workers for which there was no current permission in place.
There was further debate on the suitability of the holiday-let accommodation with officers confirming their view that the holiday-let accommodation was available and suitable to meet the needs of the farm business and there were plans in place (from a previous permission granted in 2005) which showed the dwelling could be improved to be 100 square metres, 4 bedroom dwelling, and with a revised planning application could be further extended and upgraded. Councillor Parry argued that all TAN 6 tests had been met given that the holiday-let accommodation was not suitable as a second dwelling in its current form and was not suitable for further development given the age of the building and issues around insulation. The Legal Adviser highlighted the potential risk of a decision on that basis and sufficiency of the reasoning to depart from the policy. Whilst there would be no appeal from the Applicant in that case there was potential for judicial review.
Proposal – Councillor Merfyn Parry proposed, seconded by Councillor Mark Young that the application be granted, contrary to officer recommendation, on the basis that all the tests for TAN 6 had been met given that the holiday-let accommodation was not suitable as a second dwelling for an agricultural worker in its current form and was not suitable for further development due to its age and structural condition.
FOR – 8
AGAINST – 6
ABSTAIN – 1
RESOLVED that permission be GRANTED, contrary to officer recommendation, notwithstanding the report, on the grounds that all tests for TAN 6 had actually been met given that the holiday-let accommodation annexed to the existing farmhouse was not suitable as a second dwelling for an agricultural worker in its current form and was not suitable for further development due to its age and structural condition, and that a report on the proposed planning conditions to be attached to the consent be brought back to the Committee for approval.