Saturday, 8 July 2017

Council Meeting - Planning Matters around Hay and Bookers Edge

In planning matters, the town council has the duty to comment on the applications, but they don't make the final decision on whether it will go ahead or not.

The first planning application the council had to deal with was for Lion Garage. It closed as a garage a little while ago, and someone bought it with the intention of turning it into a seven bedroomed house which would be used as a B&B, while keeping the external appearance the same as much as possible.
The councillors liked this idea, since it fitted with the local development plan that said the building had to continue in use as a business, but the National Parks rejected the application. Now it has been re-submitted as a seven bedroomed house which would occasionally be used for B&B, in the hope that the National Parks would accept this. There was some discussion about whether the owners should make some contribution towards affordable housing in the area as part of their application - and the councillors still preferred the original application for a B&B.

Next was The Willows in Gypsy Castle, where the owner wants to build a garage with an annexe above, separate to the main house. The owner of the house is disabled, and there was some confusion over whether the annexe was for his carer or for him to live in. Either way, they decided that this was not an annexe - it was a completely separate building, and as such did not fit with the local development plan. There had been a previous application last April, which was withdrawn, to be submitted again now in a slightly different form. Again, the council said that they should make a contribution to affordable housing if the plans went ahead.

And then there's Bookers Edge.
This is the field opposite the Co-op, so it's actually in Cusop, and Cusop Community Council have been considering the application. However, Hay has an interest because the people who eventually live in the houses will be sending their children to Hay School, and going to the doctors at Hay Surgery and so on.
The plans for the site are for 26 dwellings (the poster at the site says "bespoke houses"), nine of which are to be affordable housing. This was agreed on - but now the builders are trying to wriggle out of that agreement. They have gone back to Herefordshire Council to say that there are problems with the drainage of the field, and difficulties with the builders, so the cost of building the houses has gone up and they can't afford to build 9 affordable homes. So would the Council accept £360,000 instead to build social housing elsewhere? They would still want to build the nine houses, but sell them at market value.
All the councillors thought this was disgraceful. There is a great need for affordable housing in this area, and the reasons the developers have given for wanting to renege on their agreement are pretty feeble. The general attitude was "Tough - they agreed to build nine affordable homes, and that's what they should do." It was commented that this is a common strategy by developers, and they needed to be held to account.
Hay Council will be sending a letter in support of Cusop Council to the planning authorities, stressing that the developers should be held to their original agreement. They also noted that Hay Council should have been involved in the planning process much earlier.

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