Wednesday 29 May 2013

The Planning Lottery

Caebrwyn has already covered criticism by AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas of the peculiarly inconsistent approach taken to planning by Carmarthenshire County Council (here), so just a brief update from Cneifiwr. The original press release can be found here.

At issue this time is a decision by the planners to restrict development at a site in Llandovery to 32 homes to ensure that the number of houses built stays in line with the current Unitary Development Plan. The developers had been seeking permission to build 61. Only a few weeks ago the same planners had no problem recommending approval for an application in Penybanc which will result in 289 houses being built on a site where the UDP limit is 150.

Planning is always going to have its controversies, no matter which council is involved, but it is safe to say that in recent years no council in Wales has hit the headlines as often as Carmarthenshire.

Over in Maesybont the extraordinary and appalling story of the battle between Trisha Breckman, Eddie Roberts and Andrew Thomas, a neighbouring "farmer", road haulier and sometime scrap dealer, has come to the end of another chapter with the suspension by Mr Thomas for the time being of quarrying.

Despite not growing any crops or keeping livestock other than a few horses, Carmarthenshire County Council regards Mr Thomas as a farmer, which means that he is permitted to carry out certain activities such as quarrying as a legitimate part of his agricultural operations.

When at one point Mrs Breckman pointed out that many of the large commercial vehicles cluttering up Mr Thomas's farm, such as an old fire engine, were not exactly consistent with farming, the planners explained that the fire engine was needed to hose down the yard - despite the absence of what most farmers would regard as livestock.

A catalogue of all the various bizarre planning decisions and scandals from the last few years would fill several large volumes. A couple of years ago readers may remember that the Carmarthen Journal gave the impression that the Wales Audit Office might be about to launch an investigation. It turned out that the WAO was merely considering whether it ought to think about taking a closer look.

Public confidence in the planning authority has been at a very low ebb for a long time, and the latest decisions at Penybanc and Llandovery will only serve to reinforce public perceptions that all is very far from well in Spilman Street.

The trouble is that the WAO's track record does not inspire confidence either. Time for an independent inquiry.


Anonymous said...

I believed that if a farm was used for industrial activities rather than arable or/and livestock, this would be classed a 'material change of use'.
If this isn't the case then the countryside as we know it could very quickly change to one big industrial park. Farms should be saved for genuine farming not for industrial practices.
Rhodri Glyn Thomas is right when he argues too many inconsistencies in planning. What isn't good for one, is good for another, so it seems!

Anonymous said...

I have just seen pictures of Mrs Breckman's neighbour scraping earth from the top of the quarry on which environmental health eventually,after two weeks,served an abatement notice to stop quarrying.What would be the purpose
of exposing rock if not to,again , continue quarrying.The previous quarrying with horrendous noise lasted two weeks.before the notice was served.It seems that he can quarry at will and if he pleases can end up removing the whole quarry which incidentally is sssi site.Even the scraping of the earh generates the most awful noise and apart from the noise every sound is a reminder of the stress and harassment they have endured for nine years.Is there no end to this.How much more is this council going to inflict on the couple by again turning a blind eye?

Anonymous said...

Carmarthen council I would think have never been interested in protecting the environment.They can't protect people, as is the case with Trisha and Eddie.Their human rights to enjoy their home and property have never been recognised.I also wonder how the council will react to the recent report on study of wild life and ecology.Farmers can come in with a JCB and decimate an area of trees and hedges within minutes.