COFFEE-STAINED maps and hand-written diaries recording years of vegetable growing have helped close a chapter on a bizarre Gower planning saga.
Andrea Hughes sourced the documents from her late father in her latest bid to prove that the land in Horton is lawfully an allotment as well as a garden.
Swansea Council has now issued a certificate of lawful use, saying it was satisfied that Ms Hughes had submitted sufficient evidence at the third time of asking.
Ms Hughes said of her father, who died in December, 2017,: “He kept diaries of everything he ever planted, it turns out.
“We also found maps of vegetable plots, which showed six rows of carrots, two rows of broccoli etc. Some were coffee-stained.
“We managed to get all these together since 2010.”
And these diaries and maps, on top of land ownership records and statements previously submitted, helped persuade the planning department that the family-owned land had been used continuously for vegetable growing as well as being a garden for at least 10 years.
The council had disputed the allotment use following site visits and aerial photos taken by the Gower Society between 2011 and 2017, which officers had said showed little or no evidence of vegetable growing.
The site remains special for Ms Hughes, who regularly drives from her home in Cardiff to South Gower to spend time there, along with friends and family.
“It’s a lovely spot,” she said.
This year Ms Hughes and her mother have grown courgettes, onions, potatoes, rhubarb, beans, radishes, tomatoes, chillies, strawberries, apples and pears.
And, like her dad, Peter, Ms Hughes has audited her hobby – this time with a digital camera.
Ms Hughes’s grandfather, who lived by the land in question, built a shed there decades ago. Her father replaced it with the eye-catching structure – surrounding by decking but without electricity or running water – currently in place.
The shed and decking, in planning terms, remain unauthorised after the council refused retrospective permission last year on the basis of their impact on the Horton Conservation Area and Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
That decision went to appeal – and the Welsh Government planning inspector who looked into it said the shed and decking were justified “in connection with allotment use”, although he acknowledged what was then the ongoing allotment dispute.
Graham Carlisle, of CDN Planning, which has been advising Ms Hughes, said a fresh application would be submitted for the shed and decking now that the land use had been settled.
“In the light of the inspector’s findings in the previous appeal, we would expect the shed would be approved by the local authority,” he said.