A MAN whose hopes of living off the land in a One Planet Development were dashed by Carmarthenshire councillors has won a planning appeal, and will also be awarded costs.
The planning inspector who ruled in applicant Stephen Morris’s favour said the council behaved unreasonably when its planning committee voted against a recommendation by officers to approve the project.
Mr Morris had applied for planning permission under Wales’s One Planet Development policy to live on three acres of land at Penybanc, near Llandeilo, with his partner and child. There they would live in a single-storey timber clad home and grow fruit and veg, willow, produce honey, rear chickens and ducks, and nurture a wildflower meadow. Music therapy sessions and guided hiking trips were also planned.
Such developments must have a light touch on the land, and provide for 65% of the occupants’ food needs – although 35% of them can be bought with income derived from the land – within five years.
There were 43 letters of support for Mr Morris’s application and nine objections. A majority of planning committee members voted against it at a meeting in 2021, claiming among other things that the applicants did not need to live on site and that bee-keeping for honey did not meet the criteria of a land-based activity.
The ability of the three acre-plot to meet the needs of a family of three was also questioned.
One of the councillors who voted in favour of the application, Kevin Madge, said he was appalled at the refusal decision and the reasons to justify it, and said it would be “awful” if costs were awarded against the authority at an appeal.
Cllr Madge’s comments have proved accurate, as Mr Morris successfully appealed the refusal decision at a hearing. A Welsh Government-appointed planning inspector said he disagreed with the council’s assertions, “which are not supported by the evidence before me”.
The inspector noted that the council was unable to substantiate the committee’s claim that bee-keeping was not a land-based activity.
In a separate decision about costs, the inspector said the committee had behaved unreasonably, resulting in “unnecessary and wasted expense”. Mr Morris has been asked to submit details of costs he has incurred to the council, with the two parties to reach an agreement about them.
Speaking in 2021 following the committee meeting, a disappointed Mr Morris, of Penarth, Cardiff, said planning officers and independent assessors had backed his application and that he felt he had a “very strong” case for appeal. The 45-year-old teacher said he and his partner’s greatest passion was the environment.
“We want to leave a better planet behind for our children,” he said. “It sounds a cliché, but it’s how we feel. We thought with the One Planet Development policy, here is our chance to make a difference and hopefully inspire others.”
The Local Democracy Reporting Service contacted Mr Morris and Carmarthenshire Council to ask if they wanted to comment about the appeal decisions but neither responded at the time of going to press.