COUNCILLORS have expressed frustration at not being able to visit a garden in Llanelli which has been the subject of a prolonged planning row.
Members of Carmarthenshire Council’s planning committee wanted to see the raised Pentre Nicklaus Village garden, which neighbours and local councillors have objected to, but can’t because of coronavirus restrictions.
Applicant Mathew Williams previously got planning permission to build a rear extension and raised areas immediately around it, but he went on to raise other parts of the sloping garden by up to 50cm to make it level.
His partially retrospective application to the council was to retain the raised garden and new boundary wall and put a 1.8m fence around it.
Llanelli Town Council, two ward members and five neighbours objected, raising loss of privacy and drainage concerns, and questioning a lack of county council enforcement.
Addressing the committee, Glanymor ward member, Cllr John Prosser, said he had received numerous complaints.
“It’s probably the most casework I have done anywhere in Glanymor,” he said.
Cllr Prosser said he felt neighbours would experience a significant impact on their quality of life.
“I don’t think the local residents are ‘Nimbys’ – there has been lots of development at Pentre Nicklaus,” he said.
Neighbour Gareth Williams said the issue had been going on for 18 months and that, in his view, the applicant was “clearly out of step with the local community”.
He added: “The raised ground level seriously compromises the privacy of our back garden.
“It’s all too easy for an adult to peer over.”
Agent Richard Bowen, on behalf of the applicant, said the planning officer report, which recommended approval, had thoroughly examined the issues.
There would, he said, be no adverse effect on neighbours in terms of loss of daylight or privacy.
Committee member Cllr Kevin Madge said a site visit was needed – and he was critical of the applicant.
“If he had done things properly at the beginning, maybe we would not be where we are today,” said Cllr Madge.
“A lot of people have paid a lot of money for them properties. I can understand why they are angry.
“On the other hand it’s very hard for us to turn it down.”
Cllr Sue Allen said the unfinished work looked “a hell of a mess”.
“Frankly I would like to see it completed, even though I have great sympathy with the local members,” she said.
Cllr Ken Howell said: “Our hands are tied, really. We are not able to go and visit the site.”
But he wondered “how much the wiser we would be” if members could see the garden for themselves.
The committee was shown a similar raised garden, boundary wall and fence in the same estate, and ended up voting in favour of the approval recommendation.