Could the plans for 70 new houses on the Rockfield Road be the first casualty of climate change?
Outline plans for new homes on land north of Monmouth have already been passed by Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) at a meeting in 2017.But following a presentation at Monday night’s, (6th January) town planning meeting by a member of the public who lives very near to the proposed site, councillors were reminded that having declared a climate emergency in May 2019, they were duty-bound to consider the burden on the climate that replacing a seven acre field with a housing estate would have.Roy Nicholas, a former clerk to Llangattock-vibon-avel Community Council had first-hand experience of the change in weather patterns when the road into town was closed by the council due to flooding.Although it would not have been flooded for the first time, the new climate-awareness approach by town and county councils means that any decisions taken should have to include an impact-assessment on climate change.The plans under scrutiny are for the appearance of landscaping, scale and layout of the scheme which is part of a wider application by Hallam Land Management for 130 houses adjacent to the existing estate.Mr Nicholas urged councillors to put climate change at the “very top of all their considerations” and questioned how much extra water would come from a site of 70 homes “surrounded by tarmac and concrete”.He added that the loss of hedgehogs, frogs and other wildlife would be considerable as well as bees and other pollinators. Adding the pollution of 100 to 150 extra commuter cars and whether there were enough school places and doctors’ surgeries for the new residents gave councillors food for thought before determining their decision.Deliberating on the plans before them, Councillor Rob Caffel said this plan had “come out of the blue”, saying there had been no public consultation “and this is a big development,” he added. Cllr Jamie Treharne said that he felt the committee couldn’t accept the plans in front of them solely on the grounds that there were no details from Welsh Water on the proposed sewage and foul waste for the site.Cllr Caffel added: “The fact we have had this flooding throughout October to November has been a bit of an eye-opener for a lot of people”.Although the plans accommodate an attenuation pond for excess water run-off, local fears were that this would be overcome by any extreme rainfall as seen recently.It was mentioned that there had also been flooding issues at the Kingswood Gate housing development that hadn’t been foreseen,“They were told it would happen there” added Cllr Sue White.The plan was refused on the grounds that the council had heard nothing from Welsh Water regarding the sewage and foul waste “and until we get something from them we cannot entertain this,” said Cllr Treharne.Cllr Caffel wanted to be more specific and itemise the different reasons why they felt the plans should be recommended for refusal .“After the recent flooding, it has become apparent that area has been completely unsustainable.“In view of residents’ concerns about a climate emergency that should be at the forefront of any planning application. “Also we need to look at the construction to support it, lack of a consultation process. Has the health board been consulted? What about schools and transport?” questioned Cllr Caffel.Summing up, Chairman Jamie Treharne listed reasons for refusal including no information from Welsh Water, lack of consultation, transport and infrastructure support details.Cllr Sue White said that it is a shame as so many people want houses and Cllr Caffel agreed that he too wants to see a lot more houses for Monmouth “but only when its safe and supportive.”