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Stage 5 Planning Application: Gwynedd Archaeological Trust recommendation for REFUSAL … (comments on)….

Some background (for those not in the know) …

As planning Applications are either approved or refused in their entirety, I decided to break this complicated project down into 5 Stages (after 5 years of trying the conventional route) – this was so that at least some work could get started as each Stage was hopefully approved.

Stage one included an application to provide DRAINS at the rear of the property. This is essential as I cannot install rain water goods until I have drains to carry the water away. There is a real possibility of subsidence, even collapse, of the rear of the building without drains. Perversely, the application for drains was approved BUT subject to Stage 5 being agreed first. Stage 5 refers to the fence, gate and automatic openers for the doors to the vehicle passageway alongside the building. Quite what DRAINS have to do with a fence etc is a mystery!! So … I abandoned preparing Stage 2, temporarily, and jumped to Stage 5 (see Planning Application . Stage 5) submitted 11.9.13.

Some more background ….. finances ….

It was estimated that the cost of the project (EXCLUDING fees and vat) would be approximately £450,000 and that the value at the end would be £300,000 – i.e. a LOSS of £150,000 (see Planning Application Stage 5 – FINANCIAL VIABILITY STATEMENT). The FEES paid so far already come to over £64,000 on top of the material costs. i.e. the projected loss is increased to £214,000. Now £64,000 is far in excess of the amount budgeted for fees, and so they have eaten into the actual repairs/renovation budget. The expenditure on fees must therefore STOP and the balance of my funds go to saving the fabric of the building.

Even more background ….
I have commissioned and paid for two major Archaeological Reports – the first one on the house and the second one on a trench in the yard and another trench within the house. Gwynedd Archaeological Trust want me to fund yet another (3rd) Archaeological Report by carrying out yet another dig. The excuse is that the auto gate unit involves putting a spade in the ground. The fact that the unit is only 196mm deep (< 8 inches) and there cannot possibly be medieval archaeology at that depth does not matter. Neither does it matter that a trench within the house alongside the passageway has already been dug and a report issued. Gwyn.Arch. Trust have carried out a recent dig in the street outside 23/25 Castle St. where they tell me they went to a depth of 1.5 to 2meters. They want to continue that investigation. Fine … they can do so in the STREET outside No.11 on Conwy Council land and Conwy Council can pay for it. If the Council cannot pay for it, then certainly an individual cannot. I do NOT have the funds for any more fees. (Gwynedd Archaeological Trust are paid by Conwy Council – but they did not declare this financial interest in their response). So …. what is the effect of all of this …. Well, the Council can either (a) approve the Stage 5 Application … or (b) refuse the Stage 5 Application The effect of (a) APPROVAL would be: 1. The digging of the two 196mm deep holes to house the auto unit will have the Consultant Archaeologist Dr. Brooks carrying out a “watching brief” and recording anything in the two holes. 2. The auto unit means that vehicles can drive straight into the passage and to the back yard without waiting on the street. 3. The ugly security fence and gate will be replaced with an attractive fence and historic gate. 4. Most importantly – DRAINS can be laid. The effect of (b) REFUSAL (including deferment) would be: 1. NO archaeological record will be made because there are no funds for a full dig. There will be no auto unit. 2. For immediate access by car, the street doors will have to be LOCKED OPEN the entire time. I have done this once before when I was going back and forth frequently – and it upset the neighbours, because if I could go up and down unimpeded, so could any Tom, Dick or Harry and the neighbours felt vulnerable to burglary as the rear of their properties are accessed via that passageway (shops, café and flats). Indeed, even the police contacted me and asked me to close the doors (which I did). But if I have no auto entry then I have no other choice in the future but to lock the doors open. 3. The ugly security fence and gate remain. 4. Most importantly, I cannot lay drains. Subsidence and the ultimate collapse of the rear of the property, remains a possibility. Any possible archaeology under the passageway will still be there, undamaged, in 100 years time. The building, if not rescued soon, will not last even a fraction of that time. I am prepared to LOSE £200,000 to rescue this historic building. Clearly, any support others (including the council) can give me in my efforts would be very welcome.