The protest group campaigning to save a farm in the Vale of Glamorgan from being turned into an industrial park say the fight is far from over. 

Multinational financial giant, Legal & General, who own the land at Model Farm near Rhoose, was granted planning permission to develop the site in July, as reported by The National. The Jenkins tenant farming family have lived and worked on the farm for more than 85 years.

A protest ensued and a legal fight was launched earlier this month to overturn the decision by the Vale of Glamorgan County Council. The council accepted there had been “procedural irregularities” surrounding the disclosure of the viability of the site during the process to grant planning and quashed the application

Local resident and campaigner, Maxine Levett, who launched the judicial review, told The National: “I am pleased to say that this matter will not go to court as the interested (L&G) party has now consented to judgment. 

“This will now go to a judge who will review the consent order and seal it. At that point, the planning permission will be quashed. 

“Vale Communities Unite will continue to protest and lobby as we are aware that this will then go back to the Vale of Glamorgan Council for reconsideration, and it is likely they will try and get planning permission again.”

The National Wales: The Vale Communities Unite group has campaigned against the development since it was first mooted. The Vale Communities Unite group has campaigned against the development since it was first mooted.

In a full council meeting on September 20, council bosses were asked to explain the irregularities and the reasons behind the omission of certain information - regarding the viability of the development and Section 106 obligations - and what action was taken to prevent similar problems in future. 

One reason given was new case law which the council didn’t know about.

Councillor George Carroll, leader of the Conservative group, said: “The council has admitted that viability information was not disclosed as required on the Model Farm planning application. As a result, the council has agreed not to contest the judicial review of that decision and so that planning permission is likely to be quashed.

“Will the cabinet member please confirm how this error has been allowed to occur, and what measures the council is putting in place to ensure that such errors don’t occur in future, so that residents can have confidence in the planning process.”

Cllr Eddie Williams, cabinet member for legal, regulatory and planning services, said: “Clearly this is quite an important topic. The council wasn’t found in error or at fault. We took advice from counsel, and there was some information found that was unknown by the rest of the councils in the whole of Wales.

“There was some case law that changed the view. The basis of that case was more to do with housing and the main purpose wasn’t about viability. So other planning authorities weren’t aware of this actual issue until we sought this counsel.

“We’ve got to let the process go through. There is a letter going out regarding this whole situation and how we have come to this situation. All councillors were made aware of the current situation. We just need to let it pan through and we’ll go from there.”

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The council has previously declined to comment on the issue while the case went through the courts, apart from an initial statement made on September 13, when a spokesman said: “The council has received a letter setting out the grounds for a judicial review application in relation to the planning approval granted for this development.

“Having considered the contents of that letter with its legal team, the council has agreed to consent to the application to quash its original decision.

“If the court approves the order quashing the original decision, the planning application will be returned to the council to redetermine following full consideration of all relevant matters.”

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On his Twitter account, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, who is also the local councillor for Rhoose, confirmed that since Model Farm still sits within the county's Local Development Plan, the council still believed it to be a “robust” planning application: “We still have a lot of work to do. We can’t take our foot off the gas. We’ve got to convince the detractors on the (planning) committee who want to see this application succeed that it needs to stop. 

“We need to preserve Model Farm and allow Gethin Jenkins and his son Rhys to carry on farming there and maintain this green lung around the village. 

Meanwhile, Rhys Jenkins, whose family have lived and worked at Model Farm since 1935, welcomed the news that the planning decision would be quashed, but said the farm is “now back in limbo”. 

Mr Jenkins said: “We’re happy with the way it has gone. The council didn’t make information public that should have been made public. But it has to go to the courts to be quashed officially.

“We’ve been told it’s more than likely they will try and put it in front of the planning committee again. But this time they’re aware they’re being watched and looked over. It’ll be before the end of the year, we think.

“It’s very good news and it has stalled the development for now, giving us a bit longer to sort things out. But it leaves us in limbo, and we’re back to the uncertainty of not knowing where we stand or what’s going on.”

The Jenkins family, who farm livestock, cereals and wildflowers, have been served an eviction notice by landowners L&G and will have to leave the site by the end of July 2022.  

Mr Jenkins said he hoped the planning committee could refuse permission, if the application were put forward again in the future with the legal issues resolved.

The National Wales: The Jenkins familyThe Jenkins family

He also thanked the local community for their support.

He said: “If and when it does go back to the planning committee, if all the information is actually made available to read, then hopefully they’ll see it’s not a viable development and that it’s a ridiculous idea. Hopefully their decision might change.

“We’re overwhelmed to see the support and messages we’ve had. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone in the community and everyone who has helped and sent letters. It’s greatly welcomed and appreciated.”

Additional reporting by Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporter.

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