Three years after councillors narrowly voted to accept a planning application for a supermarket in Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire County Council's planning department has finally issued a certificate which will allow the controversial scheme to go ahead, assuming that there is a supermarket chain out there willing to take on the site.
It is highly unusual for a planning authority to allow matters to drag on as long as this, and the hold-up was the applicant's inability to meet the conditions of a Section 106 Agreement.
The S106 Agreement concerned improvements to a walkway from the proposed supermarket through into the main part of the town, a stretch of roughly 40 yards across land owned by a third party, but the owner of the main site and the owners of the strip connecting the site with the town were unable to agree terms.
Throughout the entire history of this long-running planning dispute, the planners in County Hall have bent over backwards to aid the developer, and they performed even more somersaults in the final phase of the battle.
The solution they have come up with involves the payment of £38,000 by the would-be developer to buy himself out of the S106 obligations, with the council declaring that it has unearthed a covenant allowing users of a council-owned car park to cross the disputed strip of land. By extension, it says, that would allow customers of the supermarket to use the same walkway.
However, the council does not have powers to force the owners of the disputed piece of land to agree to make the improvements which were a condition of planning back in September 2011.
Residents of Newcastle Emlyn may recall that when the application was up for approval, both the developer and planning officers argued at length that the greatest strength of this site was its proximity to the town centre, and that the walkway would enable customers to move seamlessly from the supermarket into the town. That in turn was supposed to be a guarantee that the proposed supermarket would not suck the life blood out of the town centre, but would instead ensure its vitality and viability.
Thanks to the payment of £38,000 in pieces of silver this is all now swept aside, with planners stating "it needs to be noted that the area no longer forms part of the application site".
There have long been dark mutterings about friends in high places and strings being pulled. When councillors voted to accept the original plan back in 2011 the leader of the Independent group on the council, Pam Palmer, denied instructing her troops to vote in favour of the application, although coincidentally they all raised their hands at the right time along with their Labour Party friends.
If the site is ever developed, Carmarthenshire County Council will be directly responsible for a scheme which would destroy local businesses and jobs, wrecking what is still an attractive and vibrant market town.