Thursday 3 November 2011

Town Planning - pulling in opposite directions

Golwg 360 has carried two interesting reports - one on plans for a huge new Sainsbury's store in Haverfordwest, and the second on a speech given by Huw Lewis, Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage in which he promises to restore town centres and seaside towns.

The Haverfordwest story is sadly typical of what has been happening elsewhere in South West Wales, with a large supermarket chain announcing plans to build a huge new store on the outskirts of a market town and promises to create lots of new jobs (500 in the case of Haverfordwest). Typical also is the reaction of the county council, in this case Pembrokeshire, with the council leader almost beside himself with joy ("very exciting proposal for the county and the town.....most encouraging that a leading supermarket group should have the confidence to commit to what could be a huge investment...."). All of that before so much as a planning application has been submitted (members of the planning committee take note - he's giving you a hint).

The site itself is owned by a property development company called Conygar, which is also planning to build 900 houses adjacent to the supermarket. Conygar appears to be particularly active in Wales, with other major developments in Fishguard and Holyhead.

A spokesperson for the council added that the council was not aware of any opposition to the development, although as BBC reporter Aled Scourfield quickly established the next day, the news has received a very mixed reception among local people. Perhaps the council should get out more, although with Conygar planning three major developments in the county, it is unlikely that the council will be in listening mode to any objectors.

For anyone who has not been to Haverfordwest for a while, you will be in for a surprise. A large new retail park has opened outside the town next to Withybush Hospital, with a Marks & Spencer, Boot's, Next and other big name stores. The effect on the town centre itself can easily be imagined. It might as well have been fire bombed.

So while local authority planning officers bang on and on about the sanctity of sequential development and their preference for retail development in town centres, you might wonder why they are so supportive of developments out of town everywhere you look.

Huw Lewis deserves praise for his plans, but he would be well advised to get his message across to the county councils first.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is an appalling proposal. Just when i thought the town couldnt get any worse - it will just need an asda and then will have pretty much every supermarket there is. "Good news for the local economy" - what??