Thursday, 3 September 2009

FUW helps farmer win controversial 30-year planning row

The Farmers' Union of Wales today revealed Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority granted permission for a permanent dwelling on a farm after the union helped the applicant compile records and details to demonstrate the farm's viability.

Park authority officers had recommended refusal of the application by farmer John Phillips, of Nant y Mynydd, Cwm Gwaun, Fishguard, but he won an 11th hour reprieve in July after asking the FUW to compile a report to help justify the application which has now been granted.

"We were approached at a late hour to report on the financial viability of Mr Phillips''enterprise," said FUW business development director Emyr James.

"We were pleased to be part of a group of people supporting this application and that we were able to provide the written evidence the authority required. It must have been an extremely stressful period for John Phillips and his family."

Controversy had raged over the application for more than 30 years since Mr Phillips was first granted temporary consent for a residential caravan in 1974, which had been renewed until 1998.

A number of later applications to build a small house were refused and now, to add insult to injury, the authority had instructed Mr Phillips to remove his mobile home by October of this year.

The plight of the family was the subject of an S4C current affairs documentary "Y Byd Ar Bedwar" earlier this year.

"There was imminent danger that they would be turned out of their home where they had lived and worked their patch of Pembrokeshire all their lives like their forefathers before," said Mr James.

The authority received nine letters in support of the application, one of which referred to a petition of more than 100 names, and it was also backed by Cwm Gwaun Community Council.

Mr James also welcomed proposed Welsh Assembly Government changes to planning guidance announced recently by environment, sustainability and housing minister Jane Davidson.

"They will be of tremendous benefit to the farming community and rural areas. They recognise the fact that the rural economy is a dynamic process which needs to adapt to ever-changing circumstances.

"They are also something the FUW has been campaigning for, for many years, and we will be actively engaged in the consultancy process to draw up the appropriate guidelines."

Under the proposals, Technical Advice Note (TAN) 6 is being reviewed to provide more opportunities for new affordable housing for local people and to broaden the scope of essential dwellings.

"TAN 6 is about meeting the needs of rural areas and helping to attract young people into farming by providing opportunities to build a second house on an established farm.

"It will encourage the 22 local and three National Park authorities to work with rural communities to identify opportunities for affordable housing and to diversify the rural economy.

"We share the views of a number of progressive individuals who believe that the concept of a National Park is meaningless unless the rural communities within the Park are viable, sustainable and vibrant," added Mr James.


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