Farmer discusses mental health battle over prospect of losing home
A farmer says it has been a mental battle living with the prospect of losing his home after it took another step towards being saved from being turned into a business park.
Gethin Jenkins, whose family has worked on Model Farm in Rhoose for generations, said he was delighted when the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning committee voted against plans to build a business park on his land.
However, he conceded that the family is not celebrating too hard yet.
The planning committee’s decision could be appealed by applicants Legal and General.
Even if the plans for the 44.75-hectare business park were approved by the council, it would not have been given the go ahead for the development.
The council’s decision is subject to a holding direction from the Welsh Government, which restricts the granting of planning permission until a decision has been made on whether the application should be referred to ministers.
On the planning saga which has been going on for a number of years, Mr Jenkins said: “I’ll be honest, it is probably the worst few years that I have probably had to experience.”
The original planning decision to grant the application back in July 2021 was quashed due to a lack of viability information, which looks at whether a proposed development will be financially viable.
A committee meeting on the plans was deferred in October 2022 after the viability information had not been attached to the committee report.
Now, the application has been deferred to give planning committee members time to consider their reasons for refusal.
Mr Jenkins added: “We are pleased with the result as it is, but we anticipate that there is going to be more to come.
“I feel very happy for the members of the Vale Community Unite group and members of the public who have shown us great support and I feel that it means to them that all of their hard work hasn’t been for nothing.
“Someone has sat up and taken a bit of notice.”
There is concern among some councillors and members of the public that the development is forecast, according to a viability report prepared for Legal and General by RPS and Sutton Consulting, to make a £6 million loss in its first eight years.
An independent viability report produced by Avison Young predicted that the development would result in a loss of over £10 million before interest, or £34,508,455M if interest costs were payable at 5%.
Avison Young’s final report for issue on August 14, 2022 states that “it is fair to expect it would be unviable to at least an additional circa £5 million, and potentially more.”
However, the development also has the potential to create more than 3,000 jobs.
Mr Jenkins said such talk has been difficult for him, with the business park posing a threat to his family’s business.
When asked what it has been like to live with the threat of losing his farmland, Mr Jenkins said: “It is very difficult to be able to plan the business side of things too far in advance because in our business you need land to farm and if the land goes that takes away a big part of the business.”
“Rhys [Mr Jenkin’s son] has branched out and we are doing wildflower seeds, but again without land we can’t do that.
“It has been a difficult three or four years now, but this is hanging over us and I probably haven’t been the happiest person to be working alongside at times.”
He added: “We don’t know the final outcome, but we are plodding on and we are trying to make the most of things as they are and take the opportunities as they come along.”
Managing director of Legal and General strategic land, Andrew McPhillips, who spoke at the Vale Council planning committee meeting said the proposed site is “allocated for development within the current adopted local plan alongside the allocation in the enterprise zone of St Athan”.
He added: “Future for Wales, the national plan, identifies Cardiff Airport as an essential part of Wales’ strategic infrastructure and a key driver in the national economy.
“The application seeks to deliver significant private investment in the site and the immediate area, delivering the objectives and planning policy.
“The proposal delivers significant economic, social and environmental benefits supported by your officers without technical objections.”
By BBC LDRS
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