Plans have been approved for 240 homes in the countryside near Llantwit Major, despite concerns about creaking infrastructure and noise pollution.
The Welsh Government applied for planning permission to build the homes on two sites of farmland between Llantwit Major and St Athan, just south of the newly built Northern Access Road.
Vale of Glamorgan council’s planning committee narrowly voted to approve the plans on March 24, after hearing from locals about the potential impacts on already stretched public services in Llantwit Major, and a noisy firing range very close to the planned houses.
The two sites of farmland were included in the council’s local development plan, making it hard for councillors to reject planning permission without risking costly legal challenges.
Councillor Gwyn John, representing Llantwit Major, said: “The local people aren’t happy. I’m opposed to this plan. It’s a loss of open countryside yet again, and the big issue of course that we’re concerned about in Llantwit Major is the impact on local infrastructure.
“We have two surgeries in Llantwit Major: one is nearly falling down. Our leisure centre is over 40 years old; it has never really been improved upon in that time. Our traffic is chock-a-block; the roads are gridlocked at peak periods.
“Who’s going to live in these homes? We’re building more and more homes all the time, but there are so many homes already available. There’s not the jobs in the area. The western Vale is becoming a concrete jungle.”
The plans are split across two parts: a western site of 7.9 hectares with 140 homes, adjacent to the B4265; and an eastern site of 4.3 hectares with 100 homes, north of Bethesda’r Fro Church. About 35 per cent of the planned homes will be affordable.
Both sites would be accessed off of the Northern Access Road, also known as Fford Bro Tathan. This new road was built in 2018 and 2019, running from the B4265 north of Boverton to the St Athan enterprise zone and Aston Martin factory.
Planning officers responded to Cllr John’s concerns by pointing to the newly built road, as an example of new traffic infrastructure in the area; and saying new residents of the proposed homes could help local shops by bringing them extra trade.
Another concern was noise pollution: the eastern site is close to a firing range used by the Ministry of Defence. Councillors on the planning committee feared future residents could suffer from hearing loud gunfire. Planning officers said they could make noise complaints.
David Harris, who lives in the local area, told the planning committee: “This site is located right opposite and within 200 metres of a live MOD firing range. This range can be used seven days a week, up to 11pm. It’s regularly used.
“No matter how much mitigation is used in the building fabric, you can’t reduce the exceptional noise of live gun fire when you have your windows open or when you’re in your garden. This fact alone makes this site totally inappropriate for residential development.”
Because the housing development is split into two sites, councillors voted on two separate planning applications, one for each site.
The second application, for the eastern site, only narrowly passed a vote. Six councillors voted in favour of granting planning permission, and six voted against, with four abstaining. Planning officers warned refusing permission could risk a costly legal challenge.
As the vote was tied, the chair of the planning committee, Cllr Jonathan Bird, used his casting vote to grant permission, effectively voting twice.