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The Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development has approved an application for an extension to a property on common land in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
The society objected to the application for works on Cyffredin Common, under section 194 of the Law of Property Act 1925, from Mr G Price of New House, Cyffredin, near Haverfordwest. Mr Steven Jones, of the Welsh Government planning division, made the decision on the minister’s behalf to allow the works to go ahead.
The Open Spaces Society, which is notified by law of all applications for works on common land, objected on the grounds that such works must demonstrate that they are of benefit to the neighbourhood, yet the house extension was of purely private benefit. Although the house extension had planning permission from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, the tests for planning applications were different from those for works on common land.
Mr Jones, in his decision letter, said: ‘Common land is a finite resource and the Welsh Ministers have indicated that it should not be developed unnecessarily, access to it should not be prevented or impeded unnecessarily, and the proper management of it should be encouraged’.
He sympathised with the Open Spaces Society’s view that the proposals were of private benefit and not of benefit to the neighbourhood. However, he noted that the applicants had said they would remove the garage at the front of the property, thereby restoring that land to the common. Therefore he did not consider that the works would detract from, or adversely affect, the benefits of the neighbourhood.
Says Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society: ‘We deeply regret the decision to allow a private house-extension on common land. Commons are immensely important, and as Mr Jones says, they are a finite resource.
‘The removal of the garage is a small compensation, and we trust the Prices will dismantle the garage swiftly so that the land can be restored to the common.’