Vale of Glamorgan Council Begins Action Against Landowner for Unauthorized Business Units
Vale of Glamorgan Council has started the process of taking action against a landowner who rented out business units without planning permission.
Owner of Pant Wilkin Stables in Cowbridge, Tim Vaughan, had been granted permission in the past to operate former stables on the site as a number of businesses like an equine clinic, dog daycare facility and dog grooming parlour.
However, following a complaint made to the council in January 2022 and an investigation by the local authority, it was found that a number of the stables had been converted, without permission, into other business uses, like a cafe, offices and a sofa warehouse.
Mr Vaughan said he wanted to repurpose the empty stables to create jobs in the area.
He put in a part-retrospective planning application for change of use of the stables to employment uses, storage uses and a cafe. However, this was eventually refused by the council.
The landowner said his plan is to submit another planning application.
Mr Vaughan said: “From my perspective, Covid obviously hit everyone very hard. People couldn’t find units… it was very difficult.
“We had empty buildings and we wanted to repurpose to create jobs and help people.
“People were banging our doors down for space and we had some space there, so I… felt that I was helping them and everyone seems very settled here and they enjoy the environment.”
During a site visit by the council in September, it was identified that a number of further buildings were being used for other business uses. Two units were being used as a children’s play centre and a bakery.
Mr Vaughan said: “We submitted an application, but… it just took so long to be assessed and in the meantime some of the occupiers moved in and it was obviously part-retrospective… and then the council took a view on certain things which my planning team and legal team have said they are incorrect [about].”
In a planning report on the matter, Vale of Glamorgan Council said it refused the part-retrospective planning application for a number of reasons, including that it would not reduce the need to travel by car, the proposal site lies within a flood zone and the implications of flooding had not been adequately assessed.
The council also argued the proposals were not “supported by any justification that the nature of the businesses necessitated a location away from existing settlements or employment areas”.
Mr Vaughan reiterated that his planning and legal team suggested “the planning meets planning policy” and he is very hopeful of a successful conclusion, adding: “This isn’t a unique scenario. There are lots of sites which sometimes applications… evolve over time which is exactly what has happened.”
When asked if tenants moving into units were aware they didn’t have change of us permission, Mr Vaughan said: “As far as I am concerned, yes. A number of those tenants were fully aware that that was the scenario and we have been in for permission for some time.”
Mr Vaughan said if his resubmitted planning application is unsuccessful, he will appeal the decision.
A spokesperson for the Vale of Glamorgan Council said: “The council is beginning enforcement action against the landowner in relation to a number of breaches of planning control at the Pant Wilkin Stables site.
“Business units were opened at the site without planning permission last year and the landowner’s retrospective application was refused in October.
“Our policies are designed to protect the countryside from unacceptable development.
“While previous planning permissions were granted for other uses at the site none of the new uses introduced have any connection with the existing horse racing rural enterprise or support the principles of sustainable development and so are totally inappropriate for this location.
“Planning enforcement officers are now preparing an enforcement action plan.”
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