The long struggle of the little local tyre-fitting firm – Penarth Tyres – to remain in business continued last night when Penarth Town Council’s planning committee considered a new planning application for their premises at Station Road.
The business was set up only in May 2014 by proprietor Chris Cronin in a yard and buildings at the rear of 28 Station Road Penarth – which were premises previously occupied by a scaffolding firm.
Penarth Tyres stresses its local roots by using, as its ‘corporate logo’, an image of a bear’s head [“Pen Arth” in Welsh]- encircled by a tyre and provides what has proved to be a popular service for local motorists.
Both the Penarth Tyres yard and garage adjoin the rear garden of a residential property at 28, Station Road, Penarth and also adjoins an access road to the commercial / industrial area leading to Penarth Railway Station where a number of long-established motor businesses have been located for years.
On September 28th 2014 the Vale Council had received just one single complaint about the business using the yard for tyre-fitting.
The Vale Planners claimed that a tyre-fitting business should be categorised as so-called “B2” use (defined as “General Industry”) rather than the “B8” classification which would have applied to its use by its predecessors at the premises – the scaffolding firm – and wanted the firm to shut up shop immediately.
The council planners said Penarth Tyres was in breach of planning regulations and gave the landlord of the premises – Mark Boland (from whom Penarth Tyres rent the premises) – the choice of either ceasing the alleged “unauthorised use” or submitting a new planning application. However at the same time the planners said they would not be inclined to give the planning permission even a planning application was submitted.
The landlord, Mr Mark Boland, had told the council the site had been used for “B2” purposes for the previous 10 years – making its continued use as a B2 site lawful. Mr Boland and two other witnesses submitted sworn affidavits, made before a solicitor, to that effect and lodged a formal application for a “lawful development certificate” for B2 use to regularise the position .
In January 2015 the Vale Council ruled that “the evidence submitted in support of the application together with the Council’s own records” was “insufficient” to demonstrate that, on the balance of probability, premises had been used before for a B2 (General Industrial) business and refused the application.
On May 4th 2016 – in a new development – Penarth Tyres proprietor Chris Cronin submitted a new and separate planning application on behalf of Penarth Tyres itself as the tenant of the premises for retrospective planning permission to “retain an existing use as a tyre fitting centre” requesting planning permission for “B1 use” . Mr Cronin told the council “I have taken all reasonable steps to restrict any noise from the machinery used in the business and the site is now significantly quieter than it was when used as a scaffold yard and workshop”.
Included in Mr Cronin’s new application was a petition bearing over 100 signatures from local people in support of Penarth Tyres.
Last night this new application came before Penarth Town Council’s planning committee.
Planning Committee chairman Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) said the committee should look at this as it was a new application [i.e disregarding previous applications by the landlord of the premises].
Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) who is a “twin-hatted” member of the Vale planning committee as well as that of Penarth Town Council claimed that “there had been complaints” [ about the business]. He said “I am a little bit uneasy” .
Despite the chairman’s guidance that the application should be looked at as a new application, Cllr Roberts immediately referred back to the earlier (rejected) application which had been submitted by an entirely different applicant – the landlord . He said “If it’s the same conditions as last time, they claim it’s been used” [ for industrial use]” – it’s not . It’s only storage it’s been used for , and not for industrial use”.
Cllr Roberts said “with a tyre-fitting place there is now a considerable increase in traffic with every customer that comes in”. He added “We can blithely go ahead and support it – and everybody wants to support a local business and a local service – but I am a bit uneasy about this because of people living either side of it .“
Cllr Roberts went on to say “It’s not just commercial or domestic, it’s a question of active business taking place with associated traffic and noise. Personally I don’t want to refuse them, but I think we should not make a comment” [ i.e. not make any recommendation to the Vale Council planning department].
Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) noted that application had stated there was “residential support via a petition” and local support for the concept of the business.
Cllr Neil Thomas said that although this was stated, the committee had not seen this evidence.
Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said the applicant had specifically stated what he wanted to use the premises for . There would be no heavy equipment on the premises. Referring to Cllr Robert’s allusion to the previous planning application for the premises, Cllr Williams said that what the Vale Council had been concerned about last year was that the landlord of the property might have been “using this young man [the applicant Mr Cronin] to actually get a change of use. ”
Cllr Williams said the Vale Council could have closed Penarth Tyres down at any time but had, in fact, allowed the business to continue “so that makes me think that the Vale have half-accepted it. But I see a big difference between the landlord trying to do this and the actual gentlemen that’s trying to run the business ” .
Cllr Thomas said he was somewhat confused as to whether the area was a commercial area or not. It had to be one or the other but he was not sure which. Having said that, he was all in favour of supporting business opportunities for local business people. Cllr Thomas said the committee did not know what the level of local support was that had been quoted in the application documents as this information had not been provided by the Vale Council – nor did the committee know of the scale of opposition to the application – if any. In the circumstances it might be better not to make a recommendation on the application.
Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said he had not seen any evidence of objections. He emphasised however that location was an industrial area and always had been known as Price’s Yard. There were other garages with motor use and mechanical use in the vicinity carrying out activities like panel beating. Were this application to be refused the applicant might well make reference to other industrial usages .
Cllr Gwyn Roberts said this was quite a complex matter. He reminded members that the earlier application (by the landlord) had been refused by the Vale of Glamorgan Council. He felt the Penarth Council Planning Committee did not know enough about it. “I don’t want us to lose our credibility by simply saying ‘Yes let’s go for it’ ”
Cllr Roberts said “At the end of the day people live alongside this. It’s a congested street and it’s NOT the industrial area. It’s close to the industrial area I know, but Station Yard is right alongside residential houses and I think it would be irresponsible of us to approve and support it when we don’t know enough about it and we don’t know what the position is .
Cllr Roberts said “I seem to remember that when it came though last time the accuracy and veracity of the information was challenged” [ PDN Note: This was a different application submitted by a different person] . Cllr Roberts said there might also be what he called “misinformation” on the current application and recommended that the committee reserve its position and should not offer any comment [ to the Vale Council] .
Cllr Philip Rapier (Labour St Augustines) disagreed. He said “I would like to support this proposal quite strongly.” He said he had sufficient confidence in the Vale Council’s planning officers. He acknowledged that “this is a tricky situation and I’m sure we should rely on their expertise.” Cllr Rapier said “It is someone’s livelihood here and the planning officer should know that “
Cllr Clive Williams that having already recorded his personal observations as ward councillor he said he was prepared to withdraw what he had said and to leave the matter for decision by the Vale Council planners.
Cllr Anthony Ernest noted that 40-50 years ago there had been a railway line running up and down past the Station Road houses with steam trains. Even if people had moved into the area in the last few years they would have been well aware there was a history of industrial usage.
Cllr Neil Thomas, winding up the discussion, said the consensus appeared to be that the Penarth Council planning committee should make no comment on the application . The matter will now be left for decision by the Vale of Glamorgan Council – probably on a delegated basis by a planning officer.