‘Granny flat’ gets green light amid childminding claim planning dispute
A BID to convert a garage to a ‘granny flat’ has been approved – despite a neighbour’s claim it would be used for a childminding business.
Jane Wilson applied for planning permission to link the double garage to her home at 75 St Lawrence Park, a residential estate in Chepstow, and to add a dormer roof to create additional living accommodation at the first floor of the garage.
But neighbours objected as they claimed the space would be used to expand a childminding business, and Monmouthshire County Council is currently investigating if use of the home for a business requires a change of use planning application, and is considering the impact of the additional traffic generated and noise from children.
But the council’s planning committee was advised by officers that is a separate matter and they should only consider the householder application for an extension.
Next door neighbour Paul Healey-Jones, who spoke at the committee meeting as an objector, said it was “clear conflict of interest” and said the application shouldn’t be decided until the investigation into a possible change of use had been concluded.
He described number 75 as operating a nursery called Little Hoots and asked why an extension would require an “additional staircase and individual front door”.
Ms Wilson’s partner, Andrew Cox, who also addressed the committee, told councillors: “It’s not a nursery, I don’t know where people get that from, it’s a childminder’s.
“We’re doing this not to expand the childminding business, it’s about me coming home, my children coming home, and having our own place to watch TV and chill out.”
He said the extension could also be used by Ms Wilson’s mother, who currently lives in Dartmoor, with his partner inspired to ensure she would have accommodation after he had found his own mother dead at home when he’d gone to collect her for a weekly shopping trip.
“Jane promised her mother she would never put her in a home,” he said. “That’s why we’re doing this as we believe in family values and are not prepared to stick our parents into nursing homes.”
The committee was told the council’s highways department had also objected to the application as though there is a double driveway separating number 75 and Mr Healy-Jones’ home, at number 74, the extension wouldn’t satisfy Monmouthshire parking standards, agreed in 2013.
This states there should be one parking space per bedroom to a maximum of three. The garage is considered too small to count as a parking space while the driveway is also considered shorter than the agreed standards.
Mr Healey-Jones said it was “absurd” to disregard the objections of the highways department.
But planning officer Andrew Jones said latest Welsh Government planning policy advises against a reliance on private cars, in suitable locations, and therefore the highways objections could be overcome and recommended the application for approval.
He also said the increase in height of the garage was acceptable and designed to avoid overshadowing on number 74, but at the suggestion of Monmouth independent councillor Emma Bryn, the committee said there should be a condition the first floor window should be opaque.
Conservative member for Llangybi Fawr, Fay Bromfield, said the extension “would not look out of place as the houses all look close together”.
The application was approved with 10 councillors voting in favour, two against and one abstention.
By BBC LDRS
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