Friday, 12 August 2011

Planning Application Success for the Highbury

I was pleased to be able to convince my Ceredigion County Council colleagues on the Planning Committee this week to support the application made by the Highbury Guest House in the middle of Cardigan for disabled parking and access.

The Highbury is a popular local business in town and particularly on a Sunday when its fantastic Sunday Lunch Carverys (I should know, I've tried them often enough!) are booked out week after week. So this application will support a local business and will do so by giving a boost to those who require disabled access.

The problem we have is that the building is listed as it stands on the location of the old 18th century Cardigan gaol and despite the worthy merits of the application, the planning officers recommended refusal for an application that would open up the front wall to alllow room for two disabled parking bays and a disabled ramp up from the street level to the ground level of the building.

Cardigan's Highbury Guest House
Indeed, under the Council's relatively new system of delegated powers, they have the right along as long as the local member is in agreement, to refuse an application without it needing to go to full committee. As the local member for Pendre, I therefore received a call a few weeks ago from the planning case officer asking for my permission to allow them to throw the application out on the grounds that the building was listed and that changes would be out of step with a conservation area.

Full Planning Committee
I refused the request and asked for it to come to full committee which is how it ended up doing so this past Wednesday. As a historian, I'm happy with the design put forward by the applicants of retaining the original front wall fabic by re-instating it alongside the new proposed parking area. I said as much on Wednesday.

I also noted that there were no objections whatsoever for the application. No objections from the Highways Department to the new access point, no objections from the Town Council and no objections from any local residents.

I also picked up on some glaring errors in the planning report that presented the application to full committee. It mentioned that there was ample parking spaces in car parks at Market St and off North Road and that there was a bus stop outside the property. I had to made the point that all 3 were factually incorrect! Indeed, there is no Market St in Cardigan! I think the report meant the car park at Greenfield Square behind the Guildhall. There is also no car park off North Road but the Fairfield Car Park does lie at the end of Napier St which comes off North Road and whilst it may be possible to hail a bus from the Highbury area of Pendre depending on the bus driver, there is no designated bus stop there - as one who regularly uses the buses, I should know!

Success - but now for CADW
With this support for a local business and for improved disability access in town, as well as picking up on needlesss and self-defeating errors in the planning report, I managed to convince the voting members on the committee to oppose the recommendation and to suppot the application unanimously which was highly pleasing.

But that isn't the end of the matter. Althought the Council now support the application, because it is a listed building, it must now go forward to CADW (the Welsh National Trust if you like) for their support. They could still turn it down but I hope that they will see sense and support this application for the reasons that I have stated above.

Will common sense prevail? We will see. But for now, positive progress at least.

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