Neath Port Talbot (NPT) Council has approved the construction of 80 new homes in Neath following a debate over flooding, road safety and land contamination.
The council’s planning committee granted Enzo Homes permission to build the homes on a site that lies south east of Heol Y Glyn (A4109), Glynneath, during a meeting held on Tuesday September 08.
Councillor Suzanne Paddison said: “Glynneath is in need of some new housing stock.
“Our pollution officers, our drainage officers, our planning officers are going to be eagle-eyed over what happens next and they will make sure that the residents of Neath Port Talbot get a very good new estate.”
The new homes will be a mix of two, three and four bedroom properties comprising of terraced, semi-detached and detached properties. Many of the homes will have rear gardens and all of them will have a patio area.
In 2003, Neath-based demolition contractor Cuddy Group was given planning permission to build homes on the site, which was allocated for residential development under the council’s the Local Development Plan three decades ago.
But the company fell into administration in July 2018 and so the land was then purchased by Enzo Homes.
The development was subject to consultations in March, June and July this year with locals voicing various concerns.
Glynneath Town Council raised concerns over residents’ claims that there had been illegal tipping of chemical waste on the site and that it had been used as a domestic and industrial landfill site since the 1940s. The town council also requested an investigation of the land for contamination down to its natural ground level.
Member of the Sennedd for Neath Jeremy Miles emailed the council on behalf of a local resident who questioned whether Enzo Homes could be trusted by the community to build the development given the company was fined for illegal tree felling in 2019.
The council’s planning report said “much of NPT is covered by contamination, whether large or small” and it is the planning authority’s reponsibility to address this to ensure sites are safe for development.
The council’s contaminated land officers visited the site and concluded they did not object to development. However, they recommended further investigations into the land before development occurs and so “significant levels of site re-profiling” will take place before building construction.
The report said “no further development would be allowed on site until satisfactory information has been submitted” regarding land contamination.
Glynneath representative Cllr Del Morgan, Seven Sisters representative Steve Hunt and Glynneath Town Mayor Simon Knoyle all raised concerns of possible flood risks caused by the development.
“I would look forward to a professional and coordinated approach to the development of housing on this site,” Cllr Morgan said.
Cllr Hunt said: “We all know that flooding has become one of our top priorities across Neath and Port Talbot and we do not want to add another site to something that may be out of our control with the weather.”
According to the council’s planning report, there have been issues with flooding in the south eastern corner of the application site and nearby land due to the existing land and highway drainage in the area.
It said Enzo Homes cannot be required to assist with the pre-existing drainage problems in the nearby areas but the development “would not result in a worsening of the current situation” and an “acceptable drainage scheme” will be installed on the site.
Councillor Morgan also requested that before any development begins on the site, Enzo Homes removes waste material allegedly dumped on there by Cuddy Group, certain drainage measures are installed and as many mature trees as possible on the site are kept intact.
Cllr Knoyle said the development is “one of the most complex issues” he has dealt with in his career as a councillor from 2017.
The independent councillor said he supported Cllr Morgan’s requests and questioned the impact of the development on the land surrounding land of the site and the community of Glynneath more broadly.
However, he said he would welcome the extra homes as long as the developer meets all required conditions of the plans agreed by the council.
He asked if additional ground surveys could be done prior to the building works commencing so the council “can understand what is exactly on the site”.
“I think that would go a long way to pleasing most of the residents,” he said.
Cllr Knoyle also questioned the visual impact of the development on exisiting homes nearby and asked if the trees that are due to be removed in the northern and south western corners of the site can be reviewed.
The planning report said Enzo Homes has “indicated” they would need to remove of the material previously left on the site by Cuddy Group to meet the proposed ground levels. It added: “The developers are required to build the development in accordance with all approved plans, which would mean that any material in excess of this would have to be removed from the site.”
Certain conditions will be added to the planning application to ensure highway measures are installed as part of the development, including a ghost island.
The planning permission granted to Cuddy Group in 2003 allows the removal of trees on the site. On the northern section of the site’s boundary with Heol y Glyn, there is a group of trees that will be removed as part of the development and then replaced via landscaping. 11 individual trees, one “group” of trees and three areas of woodland will be removed.
The report also said the development will be visible from nearby residential areas but it “would have no detrimental impact upon the character and appearance of the surrounding area”.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service contacted Enzo Homes who did not wish to comment.