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Council confirms planning permission refused, but won’t take action to remove fence

a fence along a road side
The fence around SC Sportshomes\' homes units at the Panteg Industrial Estate. Picture: Ian Craig/Newsquest free for use by all LDRS partners.

A FIRM that makes luxury motorhomes has denied that it has been denied planning permission for a fence around its base at a Cwmbran industrial estate.

However despite a refusal notice – addressed to firm’s director Shaun Copeman – setting out that an application to keep the fence, put up five years ago, had been rejected being posted to Torfaen Borough Council’s planning website, the authority has claimed it doesn’t have photographs of the fence saved to its system.

It has however confirmed that it has refused planning permission for the fence – but doesn’t intend to take any action to force the firm to remove it.

SC Sportshomes had applied for retrospective planning permission to keep the 1.9 metre high fence at Panteg Industrial Estate in Griffithstown, Pontypool in August 2018 – which was subject to an enforcement investigation by the borough planning department.

That probe resulted in the firm applying for retrospective permission to keep the wooden “hit and miss fence” in its current position on the boundary of its base, which is the first unit in the estate.

A report, by planning officer Huw Roberts and authorised by the council’s head of planning Richard Lewis, set out the reasons for the application being refused.

The report is dated November 2 this year despite the planning application – which should have been decided in a matter of weeks – having been made five years and three months ago.

Despite the decision report, and the refusal notice, having been published to the council’s planning website, Chloe Copeman, a director of SC Sporthomes, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the information was “incorrect”.

She said the firm had ignored an email request for comment from the Local Democracy Reporting Service, but after being contacted by phone said: “It isn’t our fault, it is to do with Torfaen council, it is their error not ours. A contact at Torfaen council has said it is a paperwork error.”

Ms Copeman declined the opportunity to provide documentation or correspondence to support her claim.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service had contacted Torfaen Borough Council and asked if it could provide a photograph of the fence but it claimed not to have any “recent photographs” of the fence it had investigated and considered for five years saved on its system.

Following Ms Copeman’s claims that the planning decision was a “paperwork error” made by the council, the authority was further contacted and asked to confirm if the information published to its website was correct.

In response the council said: “The information online is correct, planning permission has been refused. We can confirm that we are not intending to take any action to get the fence removed.”

In his report planning officer Mr Roberts said, while the firm had said it put the fence up for security reasons, this did not “outweigh the visual harm” caused by enclosing the grass area between the unit and the estatate road, which were intended “to soften the appearance of the built form and create a green, pleasant and welcoming approach to the units.”

He also said as the fence, in places, is next to a footpath is has “resulted in the total enclosure of a landscaped area”.

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Council confirms planning permission refused, but won’t take action to remove fence