There was a lively debate about the Penybanc planning decision on Radio Cymru's phone-in programme Taro'r Post earlier today, and Councillor Alun Davies (Plaid) has now contacted the Welsh Government to ask for the decision to be called in and reviewed.
As Councillor Davies points out in the statement below, the planning officers appear to have adopted an extraordinary pick 'n' mix approach to planning policy as they sought to railroad the scheme through.
Cneifiwr does not normally go in for wholesale reproductions of press releases, but this one deserves to seen in full:
Application decision ‘undermines integrity of planning policy’
Carmarthenshire County Councillor, Alun Davies, has expressed his deep concern at the decision of the county’s planning committee to approve an application for 289 properties in Penybanc, near Ammanford . The approved application allows the development of 139 properties on top of the 150 limit set by local planning policy – the UDP.
An application for 336 properties was refused by the planning committee in December 2012 partly due to the number of properties and partly due to the impact the development would have on the Welsh language.
At a meeting of the planning committee last week authority planners told the committee that a reduction in the proposed number of properties to 289 (from 336) meant their concerns would not stand up to scrutiny.
Local Plaid Cymru County Councillor, Alun Davies said:
“The decision reached by the planning committee has left a very bitter taste in the mouth.
“The current planning policy known as the UDP allows 150 properties to be built on the site. But the report presented to the planning committee - to try and justify the development - referenced a 250 property limit from the LDP document which is not yet planning policy.
“The planning authority cannot be allowed to pass applications on the basis of policy that is not approved by the Planning Inspector or by the County Council itself.
“Council officers say the amended plans are now within the UDP – this may be the case in terms of geography but not in terms of property numbers.
“Members of the planning committee were told various tests and considerations would have been taken regarding the Welsh language when the UDP was approved and that their concerns on the language would not stand up to scrutiny. I disagree entirely with this sentiment.
“Tests on the language may have been carried out on a potential 150 properties, but nothing has been done to measure the impact 289 properties would have.
“I had no hesitation in contacting the Welsh government and requesting this application is called-in so it can be looked at again”.
Rhodri Glyn Thomas added:
“I anticipate the first response of the Council leadership will be to criticise me for requesting the Welsh government calls in yet another planning application from Carmarthenshire Council. I will not, however, be deterred from standing up for my constituents.
“There are fundamental concerns regarding the legitimate number of properties permitted in planning policy and the consequences the over-development could have on the Welsh language.
“The application is almost double the limit allowed in the UDP and its approval completely undermines the integrity of local planning policy. These are not issues I am prepared to ignore and why I have asked the Welsh government to look at the application.”