The Virginia Park Golf Club development in Caerphilly has caused concerns for residents and ward councillors since it was first approved in December 2019.
At a council planning committee meeting on Wednesday, March 9, a reserved matters application was discussed for the first 174 homes in the development.
Cllr Shayne Cook spoke out against the development as a ward councillor for the Morgan Jones ward. He cited the removal of mature planting and the narrowing of the tree buffer as his main concerns.
The report states that the “majority” of the existing tree belt will be retained, but the 50 metres that is set to be removed will be replaced by a Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUD) feature.
Council planning officer Carwyn Powell said: “The need for sustainable drainage outweighs the loss of landscape buffer.”
Cllr Cook added that the footpaths leading to nearby Beech Grove and Larch Grove is unfair on existing residents due to the potential increase in footfall and antisocial behaviour.
Cllr James Fussell, who represents St Martin’s, said the footpaths would cut people’s journey time and encourage more walking and cycling.
Other concerns raised by Cllr Cook were the lack of visitor parking, the small gardens and the loss of open space.
In total, 39 letters of objection were submitted from residents and all three Morgan Jones ward councillors – Cllr Cook, council Deputy Leader Jamie Pritchard and Cllr Phil Bevan.
John Wilkes, of developers Taylor Wimpey, said “every effort to avoid removing trees” had been made and said what was mainly being lost was shrub planting.
Cllr Brenda Miles said there was a lack of a focal point in the phase one proposals and that she would like to see more open and green space in the second phase.
The plans include the construction of four one-bedroom flats, a two-bedroom bungalow, six two-bedroom houses, 94 three-bedroom houses and 69 four-bedroom houses.
Twelve of the homes are set to be classed as affordable housing, and the remaining 162 will be sold on the open market.
Cllr Cook described the amount of affordable homes as “unforgiveable” due to the large waiting lists for housing and residents living in emergency accommodation.
Cllr Mike Adams said: “The number of affordable houses is lower than all of us wanted – we wish there was more.”
The amount of affordable housing units was decided in the outline planning application, therefore could not be changed at this stage.
Cllr John Taylor said: “This is now a reserved matters application and reluctantly I can’t see a reason to refuse it.”
Taylor Wimpey’s Mr Wilkes said: “These are 174 much needed homes, a valuable contribution to the council’s housing supply.”
Eleven committee members voted in favour of the application and one voted against.
Work continues to be carried out to decontaminate the former landfill site, as approved by the council’s environmental health department and Natural Resources Wales.
Virginia Park Golf Club closed in March 2017 with falling membership numbers making the venture unviable.
Outline planning permission for the site was granted in December 2019, after a Section 106 agreement was signed.
A section 106 agreement is a legally binding contract between a developer and the Local Planning Department (LPD).
But, in December 2021, developer Bellway Homes withdrew its reserved matters application because it could not agree on terms with the landowner, however the outline planning permission remained.