Page last updated at 12:32 GMT, Friday, 29 January 2010

Judge quashes planning permission for Beacons camp site

Gilestone Farm campsite
Mr Justice Duncan Ouseley found that planning permission for the caravan park was unlawful

The future of a caravan park near Brecon in Powys is uncertain after a High Court judge quashed planning permission for the controversial site.

It is understood the owners of the campsite at Gilestone farm will have to submit a fresh planning application.

An inquiry in 2007 found "serious failings" in the way Brecon Beacons National Park handled the issue.

The national park welcomed the judgment while the conservation group which brought the case was "delighted".

The park authority said the case was brought by Usk Valley Conservation Group against the national park and interested parties - the owners of Gilestone farm.

Sitting at Warwick Crown Court, Mr Justice Duncan Ouseley said: "The largest part of the blame for the many errors of procedure must be borne by the NPA (national park authority), in my judgment, which has the statutory duty to deal with the application."

Damaging

Mr Justice Ouseley found that planning permission was unlawful and an attempt by the park authority to correct its mistakes, in November 2008, was "flawed" on narrow grounds.

The park said it was narrowly flawed on one point, which related to a compensation figure for Gilestone farm.

Its chairwoman Mary Taylor said: "We welcome the judgment that has been handed down.

"It endorses the decisions taken by this authority since the failings of the Gilestone planning application emerged."

The Gilestone matter is seen to have been damaging to the national park's reputation.

It was forced to make changes to its planning department following a wave of criticism and a critical inquiry.

The inquiry uncovered "serious failings" in the authority's treatment of the camp site's planning application in 2005, and said documents were missing from a planning file.

Papers from the inquiry were handed to Dyfed-Powys Police in 2008 to establish any pattern of wrong-doing, and officers said on Friday that the investigation was still ongoing.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Assembly Government appointed a so-called "critical friend" to advise the park on planning issues.

Since then, it has been praised for the "significant improvements" it has made, but told that "big challenges" remain.

Usk Valley Conservation Group secretary, Paul Needham, said: "We are delighted with the decision which has justified our group's long effort to get this permission set aside.

"We do, however, feel let down by the national park authority who have consistently failed to rectify the mistakes it has long accepted were made and left it to members of the public to seek justice."

The owners of Gilestone farm have been asked to comment.



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SEE ALSO
Park praised for planning changes
12 Sep 09 |  Mid Wales
Caravan site faces restrictions
07 Nov 08 |  Mid Wales
New criticism of Beacons planning
30 Apr 08 |  Mid Wales
Adviser to oversee park planning
26 Mar 08 |  Mid Wales
Park inquiry papers with police
14 Mar 08 |  Mid Wales

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