A CONTROVERSIAL application to build traveller pitches on greenbelt land has been approved on appeal.
The long-running plan to build five pitches on land near Magazine Lane, Ewloe, was allowed earlier this month after a public appeal.
Planning inspector Tim Belcher stated in a report released after the decision that the main issue to consider was whether noise from the nearby A55 would be detrimental to the living standards of those on the site – a central reason behind Flintshire planners’ earlier refusal of the bid.
Mr Belcher said: “If I find that there would not be any unacceptable living conditions on the site, the harm caused to the green barrier is clearly outweighed by other considerations amounting to very exceptional circumstances and planning permission should be granted.
“Accordingly, the main issue in this case is whether the noise from traffic using the A55 would materially harm the living conditions of the occupiers of the appeal site.
“On the balance of probabilities, I conclude that the noise from traffic using the A55 would not materially harm the living conditions of the occupiers of the appeal site following the construction of the noise barrier.
“Accordingly, the proposal accords with the relevant provisions of the development plan.”
The inquiry also found that Flintshire Council had acted unreasonably on some counts and that applicant Martin Rooney should be given the partial award of costs.
The inspector rejected one of the council's reasons for refusal – that overhead power lines would pose a risk – and said costs incurred by the applicant should be returned.
It also found that the applicant deserved a return of costs over the council’s conduct regarding an additional report requested from the applicant on air quality.
It concluded: “I conclude that unreasonable behaviour resulting in unnecessary or wasted expense has been demonstrated and that a partial award of costs is justified.”
The plans were first lodged in 2010 and have been the subject of significant opposition from residents living nearby.
There had already been one public inquiry after an earlier bid was thrown out by Flintshire Council’s planning committee in 2012.
Campaigners expressed strong concerns, saying it was in open countryside on designated green barrier land separating the villages of Northop Hall and Ewloe.
Ewloe councillor Dave Mackie said: “People are obviously very disappointed about this.
“My concern was always to protect the green barrier – I just don’t think it is the right place.”
A spokesman for Ewloe Green Action Group, set up to fight the application, said: “Despite the fact that the site lies in green barrier, that there were nearly 300 letters of objection which included objections from community councillors, the local Assembly Members and MP, and that Flintshire Council’s planning committees rejected the plans on two occasions, the Planning Inspectorate have allowed the development to go-ahead.
“As local residents we are still firmly of the belief that this is an inappropriate location for such a site and will affect the communities of Ewloe Green and Northop Hall and the wider community who use Magazine Lane regularly.”
Andrew Farrow, head of planning said: “We are currently reflecting on the inspector’s decision and any issues that it raises for us as a council.”