COMMITTEE:

PLANNING COMMITTEE

   

DATE:

4 MARCH 2003

   

REPORT OF:

HEAD OF PLANNING

   

TMT/02076

FULL PLANNING

Date Received

08 August 2002

RETENTION OF EXCAVATED ROCK FACE, RETENTION OF EARTHWORKS, VEHICLE HARDSTANDING/TURNING AREA AND STEPS/PATH APPROACH TO DWELLING; CONSTRUCTION OF SEA DEFENCE WALL AND PAVED AMENITY AREA AT: FERRY HOUSE, DYLAN'S WALK, LAUGHARNE, CARMARTHENSHIRE.

   

FOR:

MR E EYNON

 

LLETHR HOUSE

 

PENDINE

 

CARMARTHENSHIRE

   
   

AGENT:

RPS GROUP PLC

 

PARK HOUSE

 

GREYFRIARS ROAD

 

CARDIFF

 

CF10 3AF

   

ELECTORAL WARD:

LAUGHARNE TOWNSHIP

   

COMMUNITY/TOWN COUNCIL:

LAUGHARNE TOWNSHIP

   

CONTACT OFFICER:

J THOMAS 01267 224875

CONSULTATIONS

Environment Agency - No objection but requests the inclusion of advisory notes.

Head of Transport - Vehicular traffic currently visiting Ferry House terminates at the end of the public highway. Due to there being no turning facilities, such traffic has to reverse back a length of approximately 170 metres to the nearest available turning area. Not a desirable practice considering the narrow nature of the road and pedestrian traffic.

Although it is fair to predict that providing a turning area may lead to an increase in vehicle traffic along the highway, vehicles presently have a right of access to the property. It is not anticipated that the traffic flow will drastically increase, whereby it is concluded that it is safer for such traffic to travel along this road in a forward gear from both directions, rather than reverse along a long length of the narrow highway.

Public Rights of Way Officer - The Authority has received a request to register the pedestrian route that leads from the end of Cliff Road, via Ferry House, to the Foreshore. In considering the request by Laugharne Township Community Council to register the route as a public footpath, statements from various people who claimed to have used the route; the support of the freehold owners (Laugharne Corporation); an objection from solicitors acting on behalf of the lessee; together with evidence revealed from research by the Public Rights of Way Section were considered. It was resolved on the 7th November 2001 to approve the request, and that a Definitive Map Modification Order be made.

Laugharne Community Council - Request that the Planning Committee undertake a site visit whereupon a spokesperson for the Community Council could make observations. The site would be best viewed from the foreshore, and would need to be undertaken at low-tide The application is mainly based on pre-application works, whereby before the current application can be considered a retrospective planning application must be made for the works already undertaken. Further consideration of this application would give unwarranted and improper status to the work.

The proposals would have an unwarranted impact on an important heritage site, given it's Conservation Area status justified by its landscape setting and open space. The area therefore enjoys statutory protection, while the woodland is also subject to a Tree Preservation Order. The two tree reports prepared in support of the application make reference to the protected status of the trees, while also recording the damage caused. The Authority should enforce against such unauthorised works.

The application property fronts onto the foreshore, whereby the estuary has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC), and the works do not appear to accord with such a designation.

Ferry House is of historic importance as a crossing point across the estuary and should be preserved. Access to the house and foreshore has been demolished, along what was regarded locally as a public right of way.

Dylan's Walk is an unclassified County Road, whereby deliveries have always been by hand-transport. The highway narrows to under 2.0m in places and is extensively used by pedestrians visiting the Boathouse and using the public right of way. It is considered that the Highway Authority should prohibit and prevent vehicular traffic beyond Cliff Cottage. The planning application should be refused due to the inadequacy for construction traffic, and resulting traffic.

The proposal assumes vehicular access across an un-surfaced public footpath, which the Council believes would require a specific planning approval. The Council would object to any such application.

The scale of the proposed access and hardstnading, both of which are shown to be elevated would overwhelm the woodland and represent an unacceptable dominating feature.

The Council consideres that certain recommended mitigation works are unacceptable, whereby much of the dangerous state can be related to the unauthorised work already carried out. The council would like to see separate reports on remedial work and landscaping. The range of engineering works required to overcome the structural problems are out of proportion to the area affected. It is considered more appropriate to refuse and require a more appropriate conservation and protective approach.

Strong reservations are held towards the proposed sea wall and slipway, whereby the Council trusts the Planning Authority will assess the impact of this proposal on the visual amenity of the Taf Estuary.

The historic setting of what functioned as a ferry crossing point should be preserved, whereby the proposed development would destroy this.

The previous access to Ferry House and the Foreshore has been demolished, whereby the route was regarded locally as a public footpath which the Community Council is pressing for a public right of way to be registered. Dylan's Walk is an unclassified County Road which is very narrow and vehicles do not normally pass beyond Cliff Cottage. This route narrows to under two metres beyond this point and is extensively used by pedestrians visiting the Boathouse and using the public right of way. The Authority should take steps to prohibit and prevent vehicular access beyond Cliff Cottage, whereby the access is inadequate for construction or subsequent traffic.

The formation of an access onto an unsurfaced footpath requires a specific planning approval, and the Community Council objects to such a proposal.

Deliveries to the Boathouse and Ferry House have always been hand-transported from vehicles at Cliff Cottage, or the slipway owned by Seasons Holidays.

The amended plans appear only to show a simpler reverse-in and drive-out parking and hardstanding area. This continues to represent a detrimental feature to this location, and the proposed planting will do little to reduce the impact on this natural, protected woodland.

Local Member - County Councillor Mr C Roberts has made no comment to date in respect of this planning application.

Head of Public Protection - No adverse comments

Conservation Manager - No objection. The clearance work carried out to date has not constituted a breach of the statutory protection afforded to trees situated in a conservation area, or those covered by the Glan-y-Mor Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) - It was noted that a substantial amount of excavation work has already been carried out, whereby the concerns of CCW relate only to the possible impact on the proposed Taf Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). As the boundary of the SSSI generally follows the line of high water, it is taken that the boundary in this case follows the most seaward of the rocky outcrops lying parallel to the cliff face, and in front of the property. The SSSI features of interest relate to the intertidal areas, and do not have a geological component.

In conclusion, there has been no impact upon the SSSI, whereby the rubble and stone already deposited can be regarded as being outside the SSSI.

CADW - The proposal is not considered to affect the setting of the Laugharne parks and gardens, or landscapes, included in the Register of Landscapes, Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in Wales.

Laugharne Civic Trust - The applicant has denied access to a public right-of-way; cut down trees; excavated and removed tons of earth and rock; assumed the right to use vehicles on a pedestrian path; all in an area of Special Scientific Interest within a Conservation Area and alongside a heritage site. Work is urgently required in order to stabilise the cliff.

Steps should be taken to ensure that the public footpath above Ferry House be made safe, the earth replaced and trees planted over, and the landscape made good before any planning application can be considered.

Urban Design Manager - Reference is made to the duty placed upon Local Planning Authorities to preserve, protect or enhance those areas designated as conservation areas. Any development proposal must therefore be considered as to whether it would harm the character or appearance of the conservation area, whereby should this be the case such an application should be refused. The appearance of this part of the conservation area is quantified by it's physical environment, while the 'character' comprises of a mix of the physical with the historical and cultural elements that create the unique identity of an area.

The wide range of engineering works already undertaken, together with those further works proposed, cover the formation of a vehicle hardstanding and turning area (where there was previously none); the removal of existing trees (a contributory element of the landscape); removal of a large section of cliff face; and formation of sea defences and creation of a paved amenity area.

The removal of the justification for the removal of the cliff face for safety reasons is now academic. It's replacement is impossible and the Authority is faced with a fait accompli. The proposed sea defence wall and paved amenity area are not considered to pose harm to the siting of Ferry House within the conservation area, provided the work is undertaken in an appropriate manner using suitable material.

The formation of a hardstanding and parking area would however introduce an urban form into the area, alien to its rural nature, undermining its quality and value. This would encourage vehicular movement along the pathway leading to the Boat House and beyond, used by pedestrians to appreciate the spectacular views across the estuary. This element of the proposal would undermine the sensory experience of individuals traversing the route.

It is argued that the proposed development is considered contrary to the guidance contained in Planning Guidance Wales; Technical Advice Note (TAN) 14 ; together with the relevant policy provisions of the Dyfed County Structure Plan and Carmarthen District Local Plan.

Laugharne Corporation - As the freehold owner, they state that they have not been served with a notice by the leaseholder. As the Corporation was served with a copy of the enforcement and stop notice, why were they not consulted on the planning application. The Corporation now requests that consideration of the application be deferred for the Corporation to consider the proposal. It is requested that a representative of the Corporation be allowed to address the Planning Committee before a decision is taken on the application.

Neighbours/Public - This application has been publicised in the local press, by means of a site notice in accordance with the provisions of Section 73 of the Town and Country Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, together with letters of notification sent to five neighbouring properties. In response to such publicity letters of objection, together with a 592 signature petition have been received to date, objecting to the proposal for the following reasons :-

· the owner has flouted planning procedures by undertaking unauthorised works to a sensitive area of the Laugharne Conservation Area over the period of a Bank Holiday. This behaviour should be made an example of;

· the owner has excavated inside the house to an incredible depth;

· excavated material has been deposited on the ledge to the south of the house which now continues to fall onto the foreshore. How can planning permission be given to pave over this area;

· are the geo-technical report recommendations intended to allow vehicles to travel along Cliff Road, barely wide enough for a car, or is it intended to safeguard the footpath ?;

· ratepayers should not have to pay to make the unauthorised works right;

· the shoreline will be altered by the creation of an elevated landing stage and sea wall,

· use of Dylans Walk by vehicles will constitute a danger to public health, particularly in the busy summer months as tourists and holidaymakers, many of which have prams and are wheelchair bound, use the route to the Boathouse;

· it is hoped that steps will be taken to reverse as much as possible of the damage that has been done.

· the proposed plans for Ferry House are totally insensitive to the historic character and idyllic setting of the Dylan Thomas Boat House.

· no retrospective planning permission should be granted, only restoration and prosecution;

· the Boat House and Writing Shed are already experiencing subsidence problems, and all vehicles should be banned from using the Cliff Walk above this area;

· the unauthorised works could possibly destabilise the whole area;

· can the applicant be ordered to restore the damage by rebuilding the cliff and public right of way, or will he escape with impunity;

· a beautiful peaceful wood, teeming with wildlife and part of a very popular coastal path has been virtually destroyed;

· trees have been destroyed and others have had their roots exposed by the unauthorised works;

· can the public be prevented from using the right of way, which residents of Laugharne have used past Ferry House for many years;

· an already weakened cliff face will be further weakened by traffic use, whereby cracks have appeared in the wall below the walkway during the construction work undertaken to date and the unauthorised works blocked the way of tourists;

· difficult to see how a vehicle could turn in this spot;

· would the sea defence wall lead to increase flooding to other properties;

· no reference to what is intended of the house;

· it is believed that the proposal is to create some form of holiday complex;

· no assessment of the effect on tourism and property values;

· account should be taken of the effects on nearby Boathouse and Writing shed, both Grade II listed buildings, and important amenity and educational resources;

· development should be sensitively planned and in no way detrimental to public access and the trade of a culturally significant site;

· the unclassified highway beyond the Writing Shed is a shared access to both the Boathouse and Ferry House. The highway had a bollard up until 1982, when it was removed during engineering works to stabilise subsidence;

· highway beyond the writing shed has always been treated as a footpath by previous occupants of Ferry House;

· as a precaution the original access to the Boathouse has been closed

· should a marine impact study be undertaken ?

· views of the Boathouse, with Ferry House in the background have already been affected by the unauthorised engineering work.

· further investment scheduled for the Boathouse may be jeopardised;

· adverse publicity and negative visitor reaction, coupled with a drop in visitor numbers would have serious financial repercussions on a wide surrounding area;

· proposed hard standing and car parking within an area of woodland would create a suburban style landscape within a conservation area, inhibiting views for footpath users. Any trees damaged or destroyed should be replaced and the ground level reinstated to stabilise surface;

· the presumption that there is vehicle access to the site is opposed. The unclassified highway becomes public footpath 22/5 beyond the metalled section of the unclassified road;

· amenity area is opposed along the seaward side of the footpath;

· CCW issued map of the Taf Estuary SSSI seems to include all/part of the area required to erect and repair sea defences;

· approval of such unauthorised works encourages others to do likewise;

PLANNING & ENFORCEMENT HISTORY

No previous planning applications have been submitted in respect of this property, while the following enforcement notices have been served:-.

TM/ENF/000013(331) Unauthorised Engineering Operations

TM/ENF/000013 Unauthorised Engineering Operations

APPRAISAL

This full planning application has been submitted by the current lessee of Ferry House, following the carrying out of unauthorised works to the property in the period leading up to, and over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend 2002. It is in response to the enforcement action instigated by this Authority that prompted the submission of this application on the 8th August 2002.

The purpose of the application is two-fold, namely to regularise the extensive works which have already been carried out, together with the implementation of necessary remedial works; and the proposed carrying out of access and cosmetic work to the property in advance of the applicant taking residence. The application is accompanied by supporting information from the applicant's planning consultants, consulting civil & structural engineers; geotechnical engineers; and consulting arborocultural & landscape architects. The majority of the supporting technical and other evidence is a requirement of the enforcement notice served upon the applicant, and currently held in abeyance pending an appeal to the National Assembly for Wales and the outcome of this planning application.

LOCATION AND SITE DESCRIPTION

The application property is a modest, detached two storey house, perched upon a rock platform above the foreshore some 600 metres east of Laugharne Castle. Access to the property is principally along Cliff Road, a narrow metalled lane leading from a point to the far end of Victoria Street. It serves a handful of properties, the most famous being Dylan Thomas' Boat House. The same route is one well used by visitors to the Boat House, the principle tourist attraction in Laugharne. At certain points along the length of the road the lane narrows to a width barely adequate to allow the passage of a car. There are no pedestrian footways to either side of the lane.

To the far end of Cliff Road the metalled surface terminates, and the lane reduces to a narrow track. It is at this point the former pedestrian path leading down to Ferry House once commenced, whereby this has now been cordoned off with the excavation and removal of the majority of the path. Likewise, much of the boundary of the wooded area belonging to Ferry House has also been cordoned off with the erection of temporary security fencing, intended to preclude trespassing onto the site and the danger posed by the unauthorised excavation work.

Ferry House is a modest rectangular two storey house, with prominent aspects to the south-east looking out onto the Taf Estuary, and south-west towards the Boat House and foreshore. The recently excavated sheer cliff face to the north-west of the house did previously extend outward, almost abutting the land-ward side of the house, while also supporting the pedestrian route leading down to the house.

The only access to Ferry House now exists further eastward along the route of public footpath 22/5, at a point where the applicant has commenced excavation work to lay Gabion walls and form a car parking/turning area. This area lies in the middle of an inclined wooded area, with a further route excavated in the form of a cutting down towards Ferry House, where masonry blocks have been strategically laid to allow temporary pedestrian access.

The house and associated curtilage both fall within the Laugharne Township Conservation Area (CA), and the wooded area to the immediate north-east is statutorily protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). The estuary immediately adjacent to Ferry House, which includes the area up to mean high water is presently in the process of being notified as a Site of Scientific Interest (Taf Estuary SSSI) by the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW).

The Dylan Thomas Boat House, a Grade II listed building is located to the south west of Ferry House, whereby a pedestrian footpath leading down to the Boat House passes above part of the application site to it's western end.

PLANNING & ENFORCEMENT HISTORY

The existing dwelling pre-dates any planning legislation, whereby there have been no previous planning applications submitted in respect of the identified application site.

Attention was first drawn to works being carried out to 'Ferry House' in mid January 2002, which were found on inspection not to constitute a breach of planning control. A subsequent report and visit by a a Planning Enforcement Officer on the 28th March 2002 revealed that extensive quarrying and removal of rock was in progress. It was claimed at that time that this was to remove a rock slip to the rear of the house. Despite advice to cease work, officers were again called upon to visit the property on the 3rd April 2002 following further work being carried out over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend. The owner claimed that the works were required to prevent a rock slip. Consulting Structural Engineers acting for the applicant had been advised of the need for a consent to quarry the cliff face as early as the 5th November 2001, contrary to which works were carried out. In light of the continued disregard shown by the applicant to requests to cease work, both an Enforcement Notice and Stop Notice were served on 8th and 9th April 2002.

In response to the service of the Enforcement Notice, an appeal was lodged, together with the submission of this planning application.

DESCRIPTION OF PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT

A large portion of the work hereby being applied for is retrospective, given that the applicant did speculatively carry out extensive excavation work to the rocky outcrop of the cliff immediately behind Ferry House, together with the commencement of work on a proposed car parking/turning area.

Due to the extent of quarrying work already undertaken, it is not possible to accurately state the depth of rock removed, thought to be in the measure of 6 metres at its extreme. Where there was previously a steep rocky outcrop immediately behind Ferry House, which supported a part concrete/stone pathway leading down from Dylan's Walk, the present 15 metre high sheer excavated cliff face has resulted in the removal of almost the entire length of the footpath, leaving only the entrance onto Dylan's Walk as evidence of it's previous existence. The quarried rock has been redistributed to the south west of the house, on part of the rock platform bordering the foreshore.

The Geotechnical Assessment carried out by the Earth Science Partnership was commissioned to address the stability of the rock and soil slopes to the rear of Ferry House, and the construction of a sea defence wall along the shoreline of the Taf Estuary. The consultant's report is based upon a number of walk-over and roped access inspections of the more inaccessible areas, together with dynamic probing. The conclusion of these survey findings was that there are a number of cracks and joints in the cliff face, caused by a combination of natural occurring geological phenomenon, and weathering. In summary, the different physical characteristics of the rock strata, coupled with faults in the rock have given rise to areas of weakness, principally between the bedding planes at their joints recognised as areas of potential weakness.

To the western cliff face of the site, where no quarrying has been carried out, the overhanging nature of the rock poses danger of rock failures. Above this area is a masonry wall, founded into rock where the rock recedes into the face of the cliff. To remedy this potential danger it is recommended that:-

A full height buttress, founded on rock at original beach level will be required. Drainage should be installed behind the buttress to prevent build up of water pressure. The buttress should be tied into the rock by rock dowels. These dowels will be needed in any case to secure dangerous blocks and provide a safe working area foe construction of the buttress.

To the immediate rear of the house, where the rock face has been excavated to an approx. angle of 80 degrees to the horizontal, the nature of the rock geology is different, with close jointing of the rock face. It is expected that the weathering and surface erosion at this point will lead to ravelling, and the potential for small rock falls.

Above this rock face there is an exposed area of soil up to a depth of 2.0 metres, heavily vegetated to it's upper extent with a section of masonry wall to the eastern end. The option of regrading this area was not feasible due to the need to retain the maximum possible number of trees. To stabilise this area, it is recommended that:-

Potential loose rock falls should be controlled by netting pinned to the rock face by dowels at nominal meter centres. The netting should be continued over the top of the rock face and over the overlying soil slopes.

In order to ensure loadings above the rock face and vegetation layer do not adversely affect stability, it is proposed to pile the section of driveway to at least 1 metre socket depth into the component rock.

Loose surface material within the soil layer will be regraded to a nominal angle of 45 degrees, and soil nails will be installed followed by surface treatment to promote vegetation.

The undisturbed cliff face to the north east of Ferry House, rising directly from the shoreline, and below the route of the proposed pedestrian access is heavily vegetated along its upper margins. Steeply angled joints in the cliff face provide evidence of past movements in the rock, likely to continue with further erosion resulting in the possible failure of a large area of rock, thereby undermining the proposed access to Ferry House. In order to stabilise this area it is recommended :-

Dentition infill at the overhang and rock bolting will be required to stabilise this area.

All soil slopes should be re-vegetated as quickly as possible. Any trees removed should be replaced with the equivalent no. of moderate to high water demand trees.

The work should be completed by early to mid summer so as to ensure an adequate cover of vegetation before the autumn.

The proposed sea defence wall, shown to be constructed around the southern shoreline perimeter of the application site, is intended as a sea defence; retaining wall to the proposed forecourt area; while also incorporating a slipway. The exterior of the wall is to be faced in natural local stone, and will be founded on the existing bedrock. As the foreshore up to Mean High Watger Mark (MHWM) is owned by the Laugharne Community Council, it has subsequently emerged that the initial line of this area was inaccurately drawn. Amended plans have now been received curtailing the line of the sea wall and paved area to respect the line of the MHWM. The paved area is now shown to be slightly smaller in area.

To the north east of the house further excavation work has also been undertaken, in what is believed to have previously served as the garden area to Ferry House. These works have amounted to the excavation of trenches and laying of stone filled Gabion crates, believed to be intended as part of a proposed car parking and turning area.

The initial proposal put forward for this area was the formation of an elaborate elevated driveway and hardstanding/parking area, together with an elevated series of steps linking the house and driveway. In response to objections raised by this Department to what appeared to be an over-engineered driveway and parking/turning facility, a far simpler amended scheme was submitted. This shows a far smaller and simpler parking arrangement, located immediately adjacent to the unmetalled track leading beyond Dylan's Walk. The parking area will be formed on an area of made-up ground, formed by a series of stone filled Gabion baskets, creating a rectangular gravel surfaced area measuring 9.0m x 7.5m.

A timber framed staircase would lead from the parking areas to a lower, and now less conspicuous, linked pathway and series of further stepped flights providing only a pedestrian access to the property. Precise details of the timber staircase would be subject to the prior approval of the Authority, as would the exterior surface treatment of the Gabion basket walls.

POLICY CONSIDERATIONS

In considering this application reference is made to relevant legislation, policy guidance, technical advice notes (TANs), and prevailing development plan policies.

The Town and Country Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 places a duty upon local planning authorities to designate areas of special architectural or historic interest as conservation areas. The consequence of which being, that within these designated areas there is a responsibility to protect, preserve, or enhance such areas.

Planning Policy Wales, Chapter 6 translates the duty of care placed upon the local authority into working guidance. This requires not only securing the conservation of the historic environment, but also being responsive to present day needs. Preservation can therefore be achieved by:-

'development which makes a positive contribution to an area's character or appearance, or by development which leaves character and appearance unharmed.'

This therefore does not preclude possible development within a conservation area, subject to close scrutiny and it's compatibility with the character of the area.

In light of the sites location within the Carmarthen Bay Special Landscape Area (SLA) overlooking the estuary and works within the tidal zone, reference is again made to Planning Policy Wales, Chapter 5 'Conserving and Improving Natural Heritage and the Coast':-

para. 5.54 'In all planning applications likely to result in disturbance or harm to a protected species or likely to have a significant adverse effect on sites of more than local importance, or on a designated area, local planning authorities should seek the advice of CCW and should always consult them before granting permission'.

Technical Advice Note 14 reflects the clear areas:

In terms of the proposal's development plan context, reference is made to the following.

Dyfed Structure Plan (including Alterations No. 1)

Policy EN2 - 'It is the policy of the County Council to protect and enhance designated Conservation Areas in Dyfed. Within and adjoining any such area new development shall be of a type and standard of design which has full regard to the character of the conservation area.'

Policy EN3 - 'It is the policy of the County Council that characteristic and individual landscape types throughout the county will be protected and conserved as Special Landscape Areas in the localities listed below or additionally identified:

(i) the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

(ii) the Brecon Beacons National Park

(iii) the Eastern Uplands

(iv) the Ceredigion Coast

(v) the Towy, Teifi, Rheidol, Aeron and Ystwyth Valleys

(vi) the Carmarthen Bay Coastline.

(vii) Heritage Coast Areas

There shall be a presumption against development proposals likely to adversely affect the character and amenity of these areas.'

Policy EN13 - 'It is the policy of the County Council that all development should take full account of the character of the urban or rural setting in terms of scale, siting, design, landscaping and the use of materials as well as the effect on the social and cultural characteristics of the area.'

Policy CC5 - 'In Conservation Areas, consent will not be granted for proposals which would adversely affect existing buildings, open spaces, trees and other features which contribute to the character of the Conservation Area. Proposals for demolition will not be permitted unless:-

(a) it is structurally or financially impracticable to retain the building.

(b) the building has no architectural, historic or townscape merit.

(c) redevelopment of the site would make a positive contribution to the conservation and enhancement of the Area.

(d) sufficient information accompanies the application to indicate clearly the effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the Area.'

Policy CC7 - Special Landscape Areas

'The following parts of the Plan area are proposed as Special Landscape Areas and the boundaries are shown on the Proposals Map:-

1. The Carmarthen Bay Coastal Area.

2. The Towy Valley.

3. The Teifi Valley.

4. Mynydd Llanllwni.

5. The Cothi Valley.

6. Mynydd Pencarreg.

7. Eastern Cleddau Valley.

8. Cych Valley.

Within the Special Landscape Areas development proposals should conserve or enhance the amenity and landscape character of the area or landscape features within or adjoining the Area. Development which would have an adverse effect on the landscape quality of the area will be permitted only where such adverse impact might be overcome by the imposition of planning conditions. Where appropriate, management agreements will be sought to secure landscape improvement, enhancement, and the proper and sympathetic management of the landscape.'

Policy CC10 - Protection of Trees and Woodland

'Development which would destroy or damage a tree or woodland protected by a Tree Preservation Order or designated as an Ancient Woodland, or within a Conservation Area will not be permitted.'

Policy CC11 - Tree Preservation Orders

`The Council will consider the making of Tree Preservation Orders as and when considered necessary and appripriate.'

Policy CC16 - Historic Gardens and Landscapes

Development proposals within or adjoining historic gardens, parklands and landscapes will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated that the landscape or heritage features will be enhanced, and not adversely affected.'

Policy CPS11 - The Impact of New Development

'The siting of new development should seek to reduce the visual impact and to harmonise with their surroundings by:-

(i) avoiding locations on prominent skylines or ridges;

(ii) taking advantage of site contours and change in level;

(iii) not adversely affecting prominent buildings, landscapes, open spaces or views from the site;

(iv) extending beyond existing natural boundaries which contain existing development;

(v) retaining as many landscape, ecological and geological features as possible.'

CONCLUSIONS

The Department in considering this application is faced with a situation, whereby despite instigating enforcement action to cease all work within the application site, extensive excavation work has already been carried out. A large portion of these unauthorised and speculative works, principally the excavation of a section of the cliff face immediately behind Ferry House, cannot be realistically re-instated.

Similarly, the stone excavated from the cliff and deposited along the rock platform immediately above the foreshore cannot now easily be removed without incurring further disturbance and inconvenience to residents and visitors to Laugharne.

The current proposed remedial works to the rear, and both sides of Ferry House, have to be recognised as being imperative to the well being and safety of both the public, and applicant. Certain of these remedial works are concerned with structural problems not-associated with the current unauthorised works, and would in any event have been considered essential to secure the structural integrity of the cliff.

The policies of this authority clearly seek to safeguard the character and amenity of this important part of the Laugharne Township CA, wider statutorily protected SSSI, and non-statutory SLA. Consultation with CCW has elicited no objection, despite the fact that the application site borders directly onto the proposed Taf Estuary SSSI. Similarly, the Countryside and Conservation Manager does not consider that the development undertaken to date represents a detriment to the landscape quality of the area, or breach of the statutory protection afforded to the Laugharne TPO and Conservation Area. The proposed sea defence wall and remedial works to the cliff face, if undertaken in an appropriate manner, using suitable materials, will not considered to cause demonstrable harm to the siting of Ferry House within the CA. This view conflicts with may of the objectors, who consider the visual appearacne and character of the area has already been damaged, as has the setting to the Dylan Thomas' Boat House. CADW however have raised no objection to the overall scheme.

One aspect of the proposal which the Urban Design manager has has objected to is the creation of a vehicular hardstanding and turning area. This is considered to represent the introduction of an 'alien urban form in this rural natural area', undermining the quality and value of this historic and cultural landscape. Having considered this viewpoint this is essentially a subjective issue and a question judgement and is not considered that the perceived impact is so significant as to justify refusal. Especially as there would appear to be highway benefits, as it is acknowledged that despite the restricted width of Dylan's Walk, this is in fact a highway, albeit unclassified. An assessment of likely increase in traffic by the Head of Transport as a result of this proposal, concluded that any increase would not be significant, outweighed by the benefit of a designated turning area for the residents of Ferry House. Vehicles would then be able to access and exit Dylan's Walk in a forward gear, as opposed to the present practice of reversing some 170 metres to the nearest available location to turnaround, posing a greater danger to pedestrians. The highway safety aspects in this case are considered to outweigh the visual impact of the parking/turning area upon the landscape. The link path and steps leading down to Ferry House are required of necessity, and are a replacement for those formerly serving the dwelling and would have minimal impact upon the Cliffside.

A further consequence of the works undertaken has been the destruction of the former pedestrian footway to Ferry House, regarded locally as a public footpath with a prescribed right of access by the public. Although not entered on the Definitive Map, a recent application by the Community Council to register the route as a public footpath has been approved by the Taf Myrddin Teifi Area Committee. A Definitive Map Modification Order is now to be made, and the re-routing of the footpath discussed with the leaseholder separate to this application.

Laugharne Corporation, as the freehold owners of the property have responded stating that they have not been served notice as part of this application. The applicant's agents did however provide an amended Part 2 "Certificate" stating that the required notice had been served upon Laugharne Corporation. A copy of the certificate, notice and covering letter have been provided. Despite the fact that the Corporation appear not to have received the notice, the Department is satisfied that they did endeavour to do so. Also, a formal consultation was sent to Laugharne Corporation in respect of this application, enclosing a copy of the plans and geotechnical report, following receipt of their letter of concern.

As can be gauged from the number and grounds of objection lodged to the works, people are understandably angry at the disregard shown by the applicant in his actions, and justifiably concerned as to what further work the applicant is now proposing. However, any decision on the application must be based on a wholly objective consideration of the meritis or otherwise of the development, having regard to relevant development plan policies. In this case the proposal is considered to comply with the previously listed policies and National Assembly Guidance.

RECOMMENDATION

Having considered all relevant information and material consierations, including opposition to the proposal from a variety of quarters, including residents and visitors to Laugharne, it is considered, on balance, that the proposal is acceptable within the policy provisions of the prevailing development plan, and recommends that conditional planning permission be granted for this development.

RECOMMENDATION -

APPROVAL

CONDITIONS

1 The development hereby permitted shall be commenced before the expiration of five years from the date of this permission.

2 The development hereby permitted shall be carried out strictly in accordance with the location plan and existing site plan received on 8th August 2002; amended engineering works plan, amended proposed site plan and cross-section drawings received on the 26th February, 2003, and recommendations contained in the Geotechnical Stability Assessment Report prepared by Earth Science Partnership received on the 8th August 2002, unless otherwise amended by any following conditions.

3 Prior to the commencement of any related work, the developer is to receive the written approval of the local planning authority to submitted details of the exterior finishes to the sea defence wall, concrete buttress, and stone set paved area.

4 The exterior finishes to the sea defence wall and concrete buttress shall be of local natural stone, a sample of which shall be approved in writing by the local planning authority prior to the commencement of work.

5 Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 3 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (or any Order revoking and re-enacting that Order) no development shall be undertaken within the curtilage of Ferry House under Classes A, B, E and F of Part 1, Schedule 2 of that Order without the specific grant of planning permission.

6 The car parking and turning area shown on the amended proposed site plan received on the 11th October 2002, shall be formed and surfaced complete before any further work commences on the application site, and shall thereafter be retained in perpetuity unobstructed by non motorised vehicles.

7 The slip way shown to be formed to the forecourt of the dwelling shall only be used for the personal use and enjoyment of the residents of Ferry House, and for no business or benefit of any other property.

8 All surface water from the development herewith approved shall be trapped and disposed of so as to ensure that it does not flow on to any part of the public highway.

9 No surface water from the development herewith approved shall be disposed of, or connected into, existing highway surface water drains.

10 Prior to the commencement of any related work, the developer is to receive the written approval of the local planning authority to submitted details of the exterior finishes to the Gabion wall elevations of the vehicle hardstanding/turning area.

11 All trees within the application site shall be retained and protected at all times during the carrying out of the excavation and construction work, and thereafter retained unless otherwise found to be dead, diseased, or dying through no fault of the applicant of contractors. Any tree found to be in such a condition shall only be felled and removed with the specific written consent of the local planning authority.

12 Prior to the commencement of any related work, the developer is to receive the written approval of the local planning authority as to the means of protection of all trees within the application site.

13 No trees shall be felled as part of this development, other than trees identified as IQP T10, DC No.3, and IQP T9 on amended Proposed Site Plan Drawing No. 11157/10 received on the 10th October 2002, unless otherwise approved in writing by the local planning authority.

14 A detailed landscaping scheme for the site, indicating species size and number of trees and/or shrubs to be planted shall be submitted to and specifically approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority prior to the commencement the development and shall following approval of such a scheme be implemented in the first planting season following commencement of the development, or at such other time as may be specifically approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

15 The proposed landscaping and tree planting shall be carried out during the first planting season following the commencement of the development, and shall be maintained, including replacement as

16 The Public Right of Way FP22/5 shall be preserved and protected at all times, whereby the route shall not be obstructed, deflected, or deviated either during, or on completion of the development.

REASONS

1 Required to be imposed pursuant to Section 91 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

2-4 In the interest of visual amenity.

5 In order to safeguard against the over development of the application property.

6, 8,9 In the interest of highway safety.

10, 12 In the interest of visual amenity and to preserve a satisfactory standard

& 14 of local environmental quality in keeping with the traditional character of the area.

11, 13 In the interest of visual amenity and to ensure the satisfactory

& 15 implementation of the required landscaping/planting scheme.

16 To protect the public footpath.

NOTE(S)

1 Further advice and guidance from the Environment Agency is contained in their letter of 7th February 2003, appended to this planning permission.

2 This planning permission is based upon the Geotechnical Stability Assessment received in support of the planning application on the 8th August 2002. Any works of further quarrying or excavation over and above those shown and referred to in the recommendations contained in the report will take the development outside the scope of this planning permission, and will require a further full planning application and approval prior to the development being carried out.

3 The Public Rights of Way Officer has responded in respect of this planning application drawing to the attention of the parties concerned that a request has