An article in the Tenby Observer last week highlighted the situation of yet another OPD that hasn’t passed muster with the powers that be. Jim Reynolds and Lucy Lant of Penally told the Observer that they were “left frustrated” after their application to turn their farm into a One Planet Development was recommended for refusal (subject to a site visit) by PCNPA’s planning case officer.
Funnily enough, no sooner had I seen the story, I popped up to Glandy Cross and ran into Rose Quirk, who I told you about in an earlier article about OPD.
Rose and her husband Mike applied for their OPD back in June. She informed me during our garage forecourt chat that she still hadn’t heard anything from their planning officer, other than platitudes and promises.
In that article I also talked about local tree surgeon Dan Badham, who first applied for his OPD planning in December 2018. After a three month validation process, the clock finally began to tick. It’s still ticking, after being told two months ago that the planning officer had made her recommendation, and that it just needed to be signed of by her line manager (a process that in my recent refusal took two days).
He still doesn’t know if the recommendation was for approval or refusal. They won’t tell him. Meanwhile, they keep passing his case from pillar to post, first promising a decision in December, and then reneging on this, only to contact him just before they ran off for Christmas, requesting an extension until the 20th January. They also decided that now would be a good time to start asking him questions about his application.
To be honest, I wanted to be a bit less whiny in this column this week, but it seems the universe is determined to steer me towards irritation and anger at the conduct of these people in charge of decision making.
Jim and Lucy in Penally stated in the Observer article how disappointed they are. They’ve spent all their resources on trying to do the right thing. They clearly feel as let down as I do by my refusal. And though I’m dealing with the council, and they’re dealing with National Parks, they’re the same entity when it comes to planning. It’s one rule for one lot of people and another rule for the other lot, us lot, the ones who are actually trying to build sustainably and have less impact.
In contrast, The last green space in Saundersfoot is about to be built upon after gaining planning permission for a Heritage Arts Centre. Sounds lovely, until you realise it’s actually 15 exclusive holiday flats and 15 retail units, probably to sell more buckets and spades and a few more imported crafts.
We’re all very stressed about our planning permission nightmares, so, to cheer ourselves up, perhaps what we need to be doing is developing a plan B instead. Clearly, Pembrokeshire will let absolutely anything happen/be built, as long as its keeping some old money happy, keeping the holidaymakers happy (the rich ones – try getting planning for more statics on your small, reasonably priced site, I dare you) and keeping the façade in place that we’re an up and coming, bustling and wonderful place. Don’t go see the rough bits. No need, not when everything you need for your holiday on on the harbour doorstep.
I remember showing a Texan and his high class wife around a cliff top property when I used to work as an estate agent. They house was pushing a million. They wanted it for a holiday home. They didn’t buy it though, because to get to it you had to drive past the council estate in Broadhaven. The person who built the house had got planning by some miracle. And I bet you a crisp pound note it wasn’t by the miracle of sustainability promises or of having a zero carbon footprint. Little Haven headland and not even a little wind turbine.
So, what do we do if we’re refused OPD and we get refused at appeal? I’ll tell you what we do. If you can’t beat ’em, as they say, join ’em.
I suggest as penally is so close to Tenby, Jim and Lucy could make a fortune by building pretend posh chalets, naming them something exclusive and building a mini golf course. They’ve got quite a lot of acres. I’m sure they could come up with something suitably offensive to the landscape and still have a better chance of getting planning than they seem to be getting with their OPD plans.
For Dan and his woods, I suggest a treetops and zip-wire type affair, with chalets amongst the trees, like a mini Center Parcs or Bluestone, with people being pretentious on hired bicycles.
For me and Rose and Mike, we’re further north. I suggest for Rose and Mike, as they have more acres than me, that some kind of dry ski slope would be fitting, with a fake ice rink too perhaps. You’d fit a lot of holiday chalets on their land. For me, I have a nice wetland to play with, so I think I’ll go for something like a scrambling course, or a quad centre, where you get to whizz around on rough terrain, and I’ll specialise in yurt building workshops for disaffected city teenagers and take them for Bronte-esque explorations on the moor at full moons.
You see, the OPD business ideas of these guys are quite imaginative, but we’re not being allowed to carry out these ideas. Our out of box thinking, however, could come in very useful for the plan Bs. Imagine the mischief we could plan if our lives were ruined and there was nothing left for us all but to fight fire with fire and play the ridiculous Pembrokeshire planning game? Especially as we’re all getting given so much time to think.
Perhaps I’ll give up on the eco thing, get myself a haircut and run off to be an MP. To be a councillor, or a parliamentary candidate for that matter, you only need ten people in your ward or constituency to vouch for you, and you can then put yourself forward.
No more compost toilets, just posh porcelain loos. No watching my journeys, just lots of spins back and forth up the M4 in some nice motor or another. No growing food, just being bought luxury nosh on expenses.