A CONTROVERSIAL planning application to build  a rural enterprise dwelling near Builth Wells, was rejected as councillors backed officers recommendations.

At the last planning committee meeting on December 5, 2019,  the application made by businessman Stuart Bridgewater, to build a rural enterprise dwelling on land at Maes-y-Cae, Disseth, 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.

Following a cooling off period, the application came back in front of the planning committee on Thursday, January 16, for a final decision.

The councillors who rejected the planning officers views had to come up with their own reasons to approve the application.

In the updated report they argued that the proposal is driven by the existing business  which is “supported” by the existing building at the site.

Cllr Phil Pritchard, (Independent – Welshpool Castle), who had walked out of the December meeting in protest that the decision had been temporarily overruled, backed approving the application.

Cllr Pritchard, said: “This issue caused some consternation at the last meeting and I have to say that I still think the officers have not provided any evidence to back up their view that this application is against any regulation.

“When you’re ready, I will move that the application be successful.”

Cllr David Price, (Independent – Llanafanfawr) said: “Can the professional lead for planning and Colin (Edwards – planning committee solicitor) comment on those paragraphs?

“Do they provide us with valid reasons to go against planning officers recommendations?”

Planning development manager, Peter Morris, said: “I’m still of the opinion that we haven’t had sufficient justification to enable a dwelling there.

“I have no issue with the rural enterprise there.

“It’s why is there a need for a dwelling there to support that?

“I haven’t had any evidence too change my opinion around that and for that reason the original recommendation should stand.”

Mr Edwards added: “Functional need is a material consideration.

“My concern is that if councillors vote in favour along those lines, then you are setting the bar extremely low.

“You’re not voting in an unlawful manner, but it is a matter for members.”

Cllr Hywel Lewis, (Independent – Llangunllo), said: “The shed is an agricultural/storage building, it does not show the need to build on the site.

“It does not show that the business is being carried out from the site.”

Cllr Kathryn Silk, (Liberal Democrat – Bwlch) said: “All applications are for the use of land, not the desires or wishes of any individual.

“The danger is we run the risk of setting question marks in the minds of future applicants as to whether their applications are being looked at on what work they do?

“Or whether we like them?

“All sorts of other issues that have nothing to do with the use of the land.”

“The only way to be fair is to stick to the rules.”

The committee voted to reject the application by nine votes to five.