FOLLOWING a cooling off period, a controversial planning application that saw councillors reject officers’ advice and back the plans, returns to committee on Thursday, January 16, for a final decision.

At the last planning committee meeting on December 5, 2019,  the application made by Stuart Bridgewater to build a rural enterprise dwelling on land at Maes-y-Cae, Disserth, near Builth Wells, was approved on Cllr Karl Lewis’ (Conservative – Llandinam) casting vote as chairman of the committee.

The application was made so that there would be a 24 hour presence at the site, where Mr Bridgewater has a shed.

At the meeting Mr Bridgewater’s agent , Alan Southby, explained that the shed  was used as part of his business, which is making emergency repairs to agricultural buildings and other structures and farming systems at unsocial hours.

But planning officers questioned the need for someone to live at the site as the business is based elsewhere and recommended refusal.

As councillors had rejected officers’ recommendations it was decided following legal advice, to revisit the application following a cooling off period of a month.

This led to Cllr Phil Pritchard (Independent – Welshpool  Castle) storming out of the meeting believing that the decision to back the application should stand.

At that meeting Cllr Kathryn Silk (Bwlch – Liberal Democrat), reminded councillors that the committee is quasi-judicial and decisions needs to be based on planning reasons not personal feelings.

The updated report by planning officer, Rhys Evans, shows that there is no change to professional advice and he continues to recommend refusal.

Mr Evans said: “At the meeting officers confirmed that they considered insufficient information had been submitted to support the principle of a new rural enterprise dwelling in the open countryside.”

Mr Evans added that the application did not fit with several policies in the Local Development Plan (LDP) and Planning Policy Wales.

The report adds that councillors were invited to give written reasons for the application’s approval.

They said: “Taking into account the planning agent and local member representations, that the enterprise is a qualifying rural enterprise that satisfies the requirements of the functionality, financial and other dwelling test in line with TAN6 (Planning Policy Wales) and the Powys LDP.”

The councillors argue that the proposal is driven by the existing business  which is “supported” by the existing building at the site

They added: “There is therefore an established essential need for the business in this location, which is fully functioning at present and which the associated dwelling now proposed would boost, enabling continued assistance to local firms that rely on the level and range of support services provided.”

“The vote from the committee to not refuse the application has to stand, unless and until a further vote to refuse the application takes place, which would surely have to be based on new evidence.”

To which Mr Evans replies: “It is considered that the proposed development does not comply with relevant planning policy and the recommendation of refusal remains valid.”