Is The National Park Now Open For Business? Gwrach Ynys Forestry Workshop, Harlech, Gwynedd

Baileys and Partners successfully supported its client Gwynedd Mobile Milling (GMM) to obtain planning for a workshop building on the outskirts of Ynys, Harlech. The workshop will enable the business to expand and operate a team year round. This vibrant local business is creating local jobs and supports the local economy.

The planning history is long but the key to the eventual planning success was local and community engagement in tandem with good knowledge of policies and planning law.

Following initial discussions between the GMM and the Local Planning Authority (LPA) in September 2014, the expertise of Baileys and Partners was sought to pursue planning permission in early 2016.

Key background detail:
  • -Building on land classified in planning terms as open countryside and situated in a National Park
  • -Agricultural style building for forestry purposes
  • -Workshop would allow Client to expand workforce from 7 to 12 employees
  • -No other appropriate buildings available locally to lease or freehold purchase

Baileys and Partners continued the pre-planning advice discussions with the LPA (Snowdonia National Park Authority). Following pre-application advice sought from the LPA, changes were made to the original proposal and a planning application was submitted including a design and access statement, a visual impact assessment, a percolation test and a noise assessment. Baileys and Partners were involved in all elements of the submission, including design plans of the buildings, site plans, and highways plans. Specialists were contracted to undertake the Ecology survey and the Noise assessment survey.

Support was received from the Community Council and the local County Councillor. The planning officers in the LPA were unwilling to support the application and unusually despite the clients request for the application to be heard by the full planning and access committee, this request was denied. Disappointingly the application was also refused on the 9th June 2017.

Baileys and Partners and the Client did not feel that their application had been dealt with appropriately by the LPA. Baileys and Partners instructed by the Client sought legal advice on the process that the LPA had followed and following the legal advice it was decided that instead of pursuing an appeal that a resubmission of the application would be made. Minor additions to the application were made including the submission of a community and linguistic statement to reinforce the importance of local job creation and its support of the Welsh language.

The second planning application was made on the 19th October 2017. The application was treated as a new application and repeated the requirements for advertisement and consultation. The local County Councillor used their powers to call the application in for determination at the planning committee.

On the 17th January 2018, the Planning Committee following a site visit unanimously voted for the application to be approved. Planning consent was obtained against the recommendation of the planning officer of the LPA by providing solid information for the planning committee to consider all relevant planning policies, with the benefits for the local economy allowing a agricultural style building to be built in the ‘open countryside’ of the National Park.

Baileys and Partners are pleased to have helped a growing local firm to achieve a result that challenged the LPA and its assessment of its policies. The Client showed great determination and Baileys and Partners provided diligent professional advice and support over a nearly two year period.

This was a proposal that took longer than it should have done but on the positive side, a local firm is now able to grow its business and support the local economy. In addition to further employment opportunities within the firm it is believed that other businesses will benefit on either side of the supply chain, whether from local forestry owners or from land managers and builders using the timber products.

The planning committee were vital in this decision and were willing to consider all the planning authority policies. On this occasion they gave considerable weight to employment and economy benefits, and also reflecting the limited sites available for a specialist building. It also highlighted the anomaly that although a shed looks like a agricultural shed and is for a rural enterprise it is treated differently because it is not strictly being used for agriculture. In changing economic times, the rural economy is dependent on a multitude of types of business and the planning system needs to reflect this.

SNPA has a new local development plan which is due to be published in 2018. Welsh Government is currently consulting on its Planning Policy Wales guidance which influences local policy making and decisions. It is hoped that planning officers and committees will continue to look at their policies and weigh them against each other appropriately. National Parks need protection but they are also working and living environments which need the support of the planning system to thrive and develop.

Baileys and Partners are keen to help rural businesses develop and obtain planning permission, when necessary. Professional support can be invaluable when a planning solution is not immediately clear or indeed advised to be acceptable by the Local Planning Authority. The planning system is designed to both protect and also enhance the local environment and economy, Baileys and Partners supports its clients through the challenges of the planning system and we enjoy celebrating the successes of clients such as Gwynedd Mobile Milling Limited.

If you need similar planning assistance, please contact Baileys and Partners.

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