Barrister to be appointed in row between council and locals over housing development

By Katy Jenkins   |   Local Democracy Reporter   |
Friday 8th July 2022 3:34 pm
Erw Goch Waunfawr
Local residents have objected to plans to build houses on Waunfawr (Submitted )

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A barrister will be appointed to consider if a piece of council land can be designated as a ‘town or village green’ and protected from development.

Ceredigion County Council wants to build houses on land near Waunfawr, Aberystwyth, including Erw Goch field, adjoining Hafan y Waun where residents have applied for village green status.

At full council on Friday (8 July) councillors discussed a process to deal with the application – with any planning decision delayed until the matter is resolved – and questions were raised about spending public money on a legal advice.

A report to council states: “A Town or Village Green is land which is subject to the right of local inhabitants to enjoy general recreational activities on it,” and is in effect protected as open space.

Local member Cllr John Roberts said it is “immoral to use public money to oppose public opinion” and Cllr Paul Hinge added employing a barrister was a “brutal tool” that would “create more division within the area.”

There had been 184 submissions in support for the application provided to the council in its role as registration authority from individuals and members of the Friends of Erw Goch.

The site has been designated in the Local Development Plan as an area for housing and Wales and West Housing Association’s hybrid application was discussed in July 2021.

It includes outline planning for a phased residential development on land adjacent to Hafan y Waun, Waunfawr and a full application for the development and associated works including public open space and a new road.

Whether discussions had been held with objectors was highlighted, with mediation to be considered, and whether it would be suitable for a neighbouring authority to consider the application initially rather than a barrister.

Cllr Elizabeth Evans said: “There’s something unpalatable about defending this position against such opposition.”

Chief executive Eifion Evans and monitoring officer Elin Prysor said that the process being decided would ensure all information is considered thoroughly before any further steps were taken, including if a public enquiry is required.

Council approved the appointment of a barrister to act as an independent assessor, that they advise on the merits of the application for village green registration and “subject to the advice provided” that a public inquiry or other hearing be held, and the findings reported back to council for decision.

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