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ROSE COTTAGE: Today

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Rose Cottage is an old cottage, on Pergoed lane; the last dwelling you come across before reaching Pergoed. It had been uninhabited for years.


This planning application from 2008, submitted from a Mr Havilland, the owner, provides a great picture of the character and history of the property... I visited the site earlier this year, which I found particularly interesting since it was the house where my Great-Great Grandparents (John Pitt and Sarah Davies) and Great Grandfather (James Pitt) lived from 1861 or 62.


PLANNING APPLICATION TO MONMOUTHSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL in 2008, regarding Rose Cottage, Glascoed.


2008/00874


BRIEF TO ACCOMPANY ANY APPLICATION FOR A CERTIFICATE OF LAWFULNESS (EXISTING USE) IN RELATION TO ROSE COTTAGE GLASCOED ON BEHALF OF MR HAVILLAND.


Background


This brief is presented in support of an application by Mr Havilland for a Certificate of Lawfulness for existing use of the property known as Rose Cottage, Glascoed as a place of residence. The application is made in the knowledge that Monmouthshire County Council has previously concluded (as part of a previous planning application on the site) that the residential use of the premises has been abandoned. This view is not supported by the applicant and owner of the site and as such, and in order to formalise and conclude the current dispute in relation to this specific issue, he is submitting the attached application and supplementary information to demonstrate that the property’s use as a dwellinghouse has not abandoned.


Supporting information includes the following (in addition to the Brief):-


Recent photos of the site;

Statutory declarations from 3 individuals, 2 being neighbours to the site and 1 a previous owner [originals of these are included];

A structural inspect report dated 2002 and undertaken prior to recent works undertaken pursuant to planning appeal reference 05/1194923 dated 29th March 2006.

A copy of the recent planning appeal decision;

A plan showing how the building could look if repaired;

Copies of relevant sections of conveyance deeds.

STAMPED MONMOUTHSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL RER Department County Hall 18 JUL 2008.

The Site

The building is located in the minor settlement of Glascoed. Its curtilage adjoins 2 large detached dwellings and their grounds. It is neither listed nor within a conservation areas. The building comprises 2 rooms at ground floor, the larger includes remnants of an original fireplace and spiral stone staircase. There are separate doorways to each room both of which are located to the front elevation. This also includes 2 windows serving the larger room. Windows and doors are missing but the frames of all of these remain in situ. Two window openings are located in the rear elevation.


A replacement wall has been constructed pursuant to the 2006 appeal decision and can be seen on the enclosed photographs.


The building is likely to be the oldest surviving cottage in the vicinity with its traditional and modest design and proportions being at odds with the adjoining dwellings which are of a greater scale and of later date. It should be considered an asset to the settlement as a whole.


In the case of Rose Cottage, the only extension that has occurred to date is the minor enlargement undertaken by the applicant associated with the new wall. A detached outbuilding exists in close proximity to the building but this is in a poor state or repair at present. The date of this is unknown.


The applicant has previously attempted to acquire planning permission for proposed works to the cottage however these were refused and the subsequent appeal dismissed. Although the matter of abandonment had been mentioned by the Authority at this time, a conclusive examination of this specific issue could not be undertaken by the Inspector as part of the appeal. This matter is therefore yet to be tested.


History


For information, the following is known regarding previous owners of the property (relevant sections of the deeds have been enclosed):-


1899. The ninth Duke of Beaufort and Duchess of Beaufort sold the cottage and adjoining land to William John Pitt of Glascoed;

1908. William Pitt sold the cottage and adjoining land to John Lewis of Upper House, Glascoed;

1913. John Lewis sold the cottage and adjoining land to Alfred Williams.

1939. Alfred Williams sold the cottage and adjoining land to Reginald Gordon Burge of The Paddocks, Glascoed;

1966. Reginald Gordon Burge sold Rose Cottage and his property known as The Paddocks to Arthur Ernest Gilbert (at this time we know the cottage was not occupied);

1986. Arthur Ernest Gilbert “gifted” Rose Cottage and adjoining land to John Horace Gilbert [Arthur Gilbert had by this time sold The Paddocks to a third party – refer to Statutory Declaration of Mr J Gilbert);

Most recently, Mr J Gilbert has sold Rose Cottage and adjoining land to Mr Havilland.

The Applicant’s Case

Section 191 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 allows any person to ascertain whether any existing use of buildings or other land is lawful. For the purposes of the Act, uses and operations are lawful at any time if:


no enforcement action may then be taken in respect of them (whether because they did not involve development or require planning permission or because the time for enforcement action has expired or for any other reason); and

they do not constitute a contravention of any of the requirements of any enforcement notice then in force.

If, on an application under this section, the local planning authority is provided with information satisfying them of the lawfulness at the time of the application of the use, operations or other matter described in the application, or that description substituted by them, the shall issue a certificate to that effect.

In this case, the applicant asserts that the use of Rose Cottage as a dwelling is lawful as it has existed as a dwelling since its construction prior to 1899 and despite the period of vacancy it cannot be determined that the lawful use has been abandoned.


The issue of abandonment is a complex one but case law has identified several key matters that must be considered when determining whether or not a use has been abandoned.


Abandonment is generally accepted as involving a deliberate intention to cease a use by reason of leaving the premises vacant for considerable period; or by allowing the building on which the use relies to deteriorate to the extent that re-use would be tantamount to re-building; or by introducing a different use.


In the applicant’s opinion and on the basis of discussions with persons linked to the building and neighbours, there has never been any intent to cease the use as a dwelling. He knows that the physical condition of the property is also a key factor and considers that the building has not deteriorated to the extent that re-use would be tantamount to re-building.


We know from the evidence of witnesses that the cottage was occupied in 1947. The cottage was then owned by Mr Burge who lived at The Paddocks and who had purchased the cottage and adjoining land in 1939. The applicant understands that the family resident in 1947 left in part due to a severe winter that year when they experienced difficulties in accessing the site which, with 5 children, made life particularly difficult. At this time, a local businessman offered the family a property in Usk for rent which they accepted. This information has been obtained following discussions with 3 of the Pollard family. We also understand that there were other occupants after this time but little is known of them and they likely left in 1951. However we do know that since this time there have been no other tenants of the property, save the occasional squatter or trespasser, and there has been no other use of the premises. This is confirmed in the Statutory Declarations of witnesses.


Until 1939 when Mr Burge purchased the property, Rose Cottage had been the only dwelling on the land originally sold by the ninth Duke of Beaufort. However, following Mr Burge’s acquisition of the property it became part of a much larger holding comprising the original parcels of land (including Rose Cottage) sold by the Duke and Mr Burge’s own property and land known as The Paddocks. The latter property is of a much grander scale than Rose Cottage which then became the secondary residential unit on the site. We know that Mrs Burge died shortly after the purchase of Rose Cottage but Mr Burge continued to reside in their residence at The Paddocks whilst renting out the smaller unit of Rose Cottage. We definitely know that this persisted until 1947 and likely until 1951.


We understand that for 15 years after the Pollard family’s depart Mr Burge saw fit to leave the cottage vacant. We know that Mr Burge was of advancing years at this time. This may have affected his ability and inclination to manage a rental property. Also, the property had no services and was need of updating with the associated cost and inconvenience of this to the elderly Mr Burge. There is no evidence to suggest that Mr Burge intended for this to be a permanent arrangement. We cannot obtain legal statements from Mr Burge as he is now deceased and therefore we can only speculate as to his motives for leaving the property vacant over this period.


We do however have a Statutory Declaration from Mr J Gilbert who has confirmed the intentions of both himself and his father, Mr A Gilbert to one day reside at the property with repair works being occasionally undertaken to the cottage.


We know that the property has always been referred to as Rose Cottage. The 1899 conveyance literature was referring to it as Rose Cottage. The Ordnance plan annexed to the 1966 conveyance identifies the building as Rose Cottage and the subsequent Deed of Gift refers to in this manner. In fact all conveyance literature between 1899 and current have referred to the building as a cottage. Witnesses identify with the building as Rose Cottage and whilst the continuity of reference to the building as a cottage does not prove an extant residential use it does nevertheless suggest that no other use has been associated with it any time nor has there been any intention on the part of vendors to refer to it or utilise the building in any other way.


It is understood that when the property became vacant in 1947 it was a 2 storey residence with a thatched roof. Certainly, remnants of the stone staircase leading to the first floor can be seen. The cottage has never been a large dwelling, its modest proportions being characteristic to small rural dwellings of the 1800s. The first floor would have largely extended into the roof space with the ground floor walls perhaps being only marginally higher than they are at present if at all. It can be seen from the proportions of the remaining windows and door openings that the cottage was typical of its day and large window and door openings , and high ceiling levels were not expected. Whilst the original roof and first floor have disappeared during its period of vacancy, the remainder of the cottage, particularly the front and side elevations have remained such that when you approach the building from the front access it still looks like a cottage. The front door is in place but window openings are boarded. Whilst the original roof has gone, the property has retained a replacement roof that has contributed in maintaining evidence of some internal features such as a fireplace, the staircase and original floor coverings.


We know that the current owner, Mr Havilland, and previous owners, Mr J Gilbert and Mr A Gilbert, undertook works to safeguard the property with a view to its future occupation as a residence. With previous instances of trespass and vandalism, the security of the site has been a priority, particularly over the last 20 years (refer to declaration from Mr J Gilbert). Whilst the collapse of the rear wall of the cottage in 2005 is unfortunate it occurred during the efforts of the current owner to maintain the property and safeguard it from the effects of nature (i.e. root growth adjoining the property). Having regard to the construction of the building (i.e. stonework construction onto earth with no foundation reminiscent of properties of this age) it was essential that remedial works were undertaken in the best interests of the building. The replacement wall has now been completed and the building is once again secure and weatherproof.


The applicant has made no secret of his desire to refurbish the building and occupy it. A structural report undertaken in 2002 (prior to the completion of recent remedial works) concluded that the existing walls were structurally sufficient to be incorporated into any redevelopment to bring the building back into residential use. Certainly, on the basis of recent site inspections, the building appears to be in good overall condition (refer to enclosed photographs). Certainly it does not appear likely that, as per the Authority’s previous arguments, the building will continue to degenerate and collapse with the new wall being the only wall left. In order to bring the building back into use there is no reason to believe that substantial reconstructive works would be required.


A new roof and first floor would need to be introduced in accordance with the recommendations in the structural report (section 5) to allow accommodation in the roof space. This in itself is not considered significant (please refer to submitted plans showing how the building could be repaired for use as a dwelling).


Although the rear elevation has been replaced, the circumstances of this have been well documented. In the associated appeal decision the Inspector stated in 2006 that “about one third of the original external area has been removed and rebuilt … the front wall, most of the two end walls and the internal walls all appear predominantly original”. This situation has not changed. He also describes the property has having the appearance of a “small traditional country cottage”.


It is considered that bearing in mind that the property has always been of modest proportions, the retention of the original areas of stonework wall (about two thirds of the original external area if we accept the Inspector’s estimate) cannot be described as an insignificant part of the original structure. Works to these remaining walls to enable them to be incorporated into any redevelopment are not so insignificant as to be considered reconstructive. It must therefore be the case that the building is most certainly not in a ruinous condition nor would the works required for its re-use be tantamount to re-building.


Conclusion


There is no evidence to indicate that there has been a deliberate intention to cease the use of Rose Cottage as a dwelling. Successive owners have continued to refer to the property as a cottage and undertake works to maintain the structure; its physical condition has not deteriorated to the extent that re-use would be tantamount to rebuilding; and no other uses have been introduced during its period of vacancy.


It is the applicant’s view that the lawful use of Rose Cottage as a dwelling is conclusive and that a Certificate of Lawfulness should be issued to this effect.