Couple had been 'trapped' in Eryri business and unable to retire due to planning rule

A couple had been left "trapped" in their Eryri business due to a planning rule that was hitting their attempts to sell up and retire. Jane and Roger Howard had run Foxes Store & Dyffryn Post Office in Dyffryn Ardudwy for 27 years.

The property is subject to a Section 106 Agreement. This was imposed on one of the flats in lieu of providing affordable housing when an annexe was converted into a dwelling at Ty’n Llidiart, Dyffryn Ardudwy in 2016.

It restricts the occupancy of the dwelling to “a person… who has demonstrated to the Authority’s reasonable satisfaction that he is unable to find housing on the open market and who also satisfies, in the Authority’s reasonable opinion, one or more of the need criteria”. The rent and sales price of the property are also restricted.

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The applicants wanted to discharge the agreement as they said they had been unable to sell the property with the Planning Obligation in place despite a "considerable marketing effort". They said they wished to retire and to sell the business and the building in which it is located, but have been prevented from doing so by the restriction. An application to remove the agreement was submitted on April 24 and is now in with planners at Eryri National Park Authority.

In a planning statement, Jamie Bradshaw from chartered town planners Owen Devenport, said the alternative is that the Applicants remain "trapped" in the property and business, which is "clearly neither desirable nor fair".

North Wales Live has since been informed that they have now secured someone to take on the store and post office. This will close for a short revamp after today and reopen in around four weeks.

In the application, the agent added: "The property has been marketed as a whole deliberately as it was considered that seeking to sell the flat subject of the S106 separate from the remainder of the building (or indeed otherwise disaggregating the various parts of the building from each other) would not be suitable. The current Agent for the property has advised that “if the flat had been marketed separately, in my opinion this would have most likely rendered it unsaleable as a shop unit- with only one apartment, changing from an attractive detached property to a completely different prospect.

"It would be unlikely to be sold as a lifestyle business and also the potential for investors would be much reduced. The potential complications with shared access etc could also be quite problematic. It would also have considerably devalued the property."

They have instead offered to pay an amount towards affordable housing in the area to help meet local need.

The agent added: "Overall, it is submitted that the Planning Obligation should be discharged and if required replaced with a new one requiring the payment of a commuted sum. This is because it is clear that there is no interest in the purchase of the flat as it stands, which has rendered the building as a whole unsaleable and this in turn has prevented the Applicants from retiring. Therefore, it is not necessary or reasonable for the Authority to continue to restrict the value and occupancy of the dwelling as to do so does not achieve a legitimate planning purpose, and instead a commuted sum could be paid which would ensure that a community benefit toward affordable housing is retained."

Cyngor Cymuned Dyffryn Ardudwy a Thalybont community council said they supported the application.

The couple did not want to comment.

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