THREE new homes are to be built on a hill where there are concerns over road safety and the construction of hundreds of new houses is already underway.
The three new properties were approved in two separate applications by Monmouthshire council’s planning committee, with councillors having already turned down one of the applications on highway safety grounds in July last year.
Developers Bovis/Vistry Homes already has planning permission for 142 homes on two plots of land either side of Vinegar Hill, a narrow, winding lane that runs from the centre of Undy to close to the M4 motorway. Work on the first phase of 72 homes, on the western side of the hill, is already under way.
The two applications approved by the planning committee, when it met on Tuesday, June 6, were put forward by individuals and are on the lower end of the residential hill which also has a number of cul-de-sacs running from it.
Applicants Peter and Sonia Whitfield were granted permission for a two-bedroom house in the grounds of an existing home named Pathways.
Their application was turned down last year but they appealed to Planning and Environment Decisions Wales and an independent inspector overruled the highways objections in part because the council failed to provide the inspector with a Welsh Government document on design standards for private shared driveways.
However as the couple hadn’t signed a Section 106 legal agreement to make a financial contribution towards affordable housing the inspector still turned down their appeal.
But as they have now signed the agreement, including a £6,500 contribution, councillors were told they could grant planning permission.
The other application approved was put forward by Mrs L Jones for two detached houses, with private parking, in land behind an existing cottage, Holly Bush.
Magor East with Undy councillor John Crook spoke against both applications and said he couldn’t support them due to his fears of the impact on road safety.
Highways manager Mark Davies said his opinion was the original application for four houses at the Holly Bush site was “too large for the existing access” but said the revised plan for two homes could be approved.
He said Vinegar Hill is already used by vehicles and pedestrians and said: “Will two additional dwellings cause considerable harm? In my mind it does not.”
Two houses might mean a “very small increase” of six to 10 additional vehicle movements a day which may only be one at peak times, said Mr Davies.
Labour Cllr Crook said thought the impact of the new housing estate at the top of the hill should also be considered, saying the potential increase in traffic could be “vast”.
He said there are “strong feelings” among local residents with comments made to him and the other ward member via email and on Facebook.
He added: “My passion is the village I live in and my concern is about the children, I want to make sure those children can go to school safely and that means I can’t support this application.”
Cllr Crook had also said children have to walk in the middle of the road, as there is no pavement on the hill, and said the Holly Bush application is at the point where vehicles coming down the hill gain speed.
Following discussion planning officer Amy Longford said she would add a condition there should be a construction traffic management plan in place on the Holly Bush development, with one already agreed for Pathways.
Mark Hand, the council’s head of placemaking, also apologised for the “oversight” in failing to provide the independent planning inspector with a copy of the Welsh Government design standards it had based its previous objection to the Pathways development on.
But he said the inspector had also visited the site and he didn’t believe having the document would have led to the inspector upholding the council’s highways objections.
The committee approved the Pathways application with eight members voting for approval and four against with one abstention while the Holly Bush plan was approved by nine members, with Cllr Crook voting against, and three abstaining.