PROPOSALS to build more than 200 new homes at a site in Dinas Powys have been granted planning permission, despite concerns the population increase will tip traffic congestion over capacity.

The application, put forward by development firm Barratt Homes, was passed by the Vale of Glamorgan Council planning committee last night (Thursday, February 8) by 11 votes to three, following a lengthy debate in the council chambers.

The development will see 215 new homes built on the former site of St Cyres School, connecting the entrance to Murch Road.

Arguments against the proposals centred around the impact that the new site would have on congestion in and around Dinas Powys, which, planning officers confirmed, is already at maximum capacity. While acknowledging that the extra homes would generate additional traffic, officers said the increase would be negligible and that traffic around Murch Road and Cardiff Road would be over capacity within several years even without the development.

Both members of the public and councillors repeatedly raised the issue of the long-proposed Dinas Powys bypass – hoped to alleviate congestion problems – suggesting that permission should be refused until the bypass had been built. It was noted also that one of the proposed routes for the bypass would be ruled out if construction went ahead.

But, while saying that constructing the site "certainly wouldn't be the death-knell for the bypass," operational manager Vicky Robinson said it would be "completely unreasonable" for councillors to reject the application when there remained "absolutely no certainty that a bypass is going to happen."

Rod Harrod, of the Dinas Powys Bypass Steering Group, had earlier urged councillors to approve the application on the condition that the bypass be constructed beforehand, while various councillors also raised concerns relating to traffic, drainage and lighting.

Cllr Lis Burnett however highlighted that the proposed number of dwellings had already been cut substantially from the original allocation, while Cllr Peter King suggested that by rejecting the application in its current form, the council could risk losing the 40 conditions already agreed.

Planning officers confirmed that the presence of dormice, which are a protected species, had forced the applicant to cut the number of homes proposed.

Despite concerns raised by a number of councillors, ultimately only Plaid Cymru councillors Ian Johnson and Nic Hodges, along with Conservative councillor Leighton Rowlands, voted against the plans.

Forty per cent of homes built on the site will be reserved for affordable housing, while Barratt Homes will also be required to pay nearly £1.8million towards education provision, £160,000 to renovate the existing Murch play area, nearly £271,000 towards enhancing community facilities and a further £500,000 towards improving sustainable transport.

They will also be obliged to contribute 1 per cent of the overall project cost towards public art.

In justifying the recommendation, planning officers cited the already good public transport links in Dinas Powys, saying that local residents did have other options for travelling besides using a car.

Referencing the 10,000 new homes required to be built in the Vale in the next eight years under the Local Development Plan, officers said this target would be unachievable if places like Dinas Powys were not taken into consideration merely because of congestion concerns.

Dinas Powys community councillor Richard Grigg, who gave evidence to the committee, blamed the Conservatives for what he said were broken election promises.

"It was inconceivable that the committee could not realise that the extra traffic would have a huge impact on the community," he said.

"What was shocking was the cynical attitude of the Tory councillors.

"During the election last May, they stressed their opposition to new housing without proper roads. Their leaflets said ‘Conservatives will prevent development without infrastructure.’

"This was the biggest planning application for a generation and the Conservatives led residents up the garden path."