Thursday 15 November 2012

Raw Sewage and Amnesia: Stradey Park and the Stopper Notice


According to unconfirmed rumours, Taylor Wimpey has moved onto the site ahead of the Welsh Government's decision.


Anyone who has had their home flooded would count it as one of their worst experiences, and flooding in different parts of Wales this summer brought home once again the sheer human misery involved. You would not wish flooding on anyone.

As coastal communities dependent on tourism know to their cost, flooding and heavy rain don't just wreck homes. Quite a few Welsh beaches lost their treasured blue flag status this year, and others who depend on estuaries and inshore waters for their livelihoods (cockles, mussels, oysters and fishing) have also been hit hard as chemicals, raw sewage and other debris wash down to the sea.

The Welsh Government's decision to issue a stopper notice on the controversial Stradey Park housing development was taken because flood maps have been updated to show what Llanelli residents have long known - that the area is a C2 flood plain at risk of serious flooding.

When Carmarthenshire County Council met to approve an extension of the planning permission granted to Taylor Wimpey for the site, the new flood advice was ignored, as were residents' concerns about traffic, sewerage infrastructure and loss of open space.

Cardiff now has to decide whether to call in the application on the basis that failure to consider the flood risk contradicts Planning Policy Wales.

Reports from those present at the meeting earlier this week say that planning officers left councillors with the distinct impression that they were not allowed to consider the principal of development, only whether or not the time limit on outline planning should be extended.

Taylor Wimpey's solution to the flood problem is to raise the level of the land by up to 8 feet.

Readers may remember that we have been round this loop before, with the Welsh Government finding itself caught out in the minefield which is planning law.

What this boils down to is a county council and a major developer on one side determined to push ahead with the development at all costs, despite knowing of the flood risks, and relying on legal loopholes versus the Welsh Government and Environment Agency who are more concerned about the human and environmental cost of the project.

The council's determination to push ahead was clear from the Chief Executive's statement attacking objectors back in April of this year (see previous posts here).

A correspondent has pointed out that the diatribe included the following statement:

We hope that Taylor Wimpey will now get on site as soon as possible to build much needed new homes, including affordable homes, for the people of Llanelli.

Some Labour councillors, most notably Cllr Keri Thomas, have also used the affordable homes argument to sell the scheme.

Strange, then, that the scheme contains no provision for affordable housing because part of the deal agreed by the council with Llanelli Scarlets was a waiver of any requirement for affordable housing in order to make the site more attractive to developers.

1 comment:

caebrwyn said...

Taylor Wimpey's agents threatened, if that's the right word, to start work more or less immediately, despite the approval not being official, and in the hands of the WG. I doubt somehow that the council will be rushing in with a stop notice.

The sweetener over the affordable housing was perverse, S106 agreements are suppose to benefit the direct locality where the development is. Not to fund a stadium several miles away.

The council have also applied to build 35 homes and an Eco park (whatever that is)on the Loughour estuary, part of the 'exclusive' Machynys development. As this is also on a flood plain the proposal is to import 25,000 cubic metres of soil to raise the level by 7 metres. So, like Stradey, they'll have a nice view whilst the surrounding homes will be kept busy mopping up flood water.