Friday 13 September 2013

An LDP nightmare - Newcastle Emlyn and Adpar

Update 16 September

Thanks to the feedback which has been coming in, it seems that as so often claims made by developers' agents should be taken with a very large pinch of salt.

Far from accepting the proposals or just being resigned to them, it seems that there is strong and growing opposition from neighbouring residents.

The developer has bought land and properties at the junction of Heol Parc y Trap and Bryn Dioddef to improve access to the lane from the main road, but crucially there are still major shortcomings with the proposed access from the site itself onto Heol Parc y Trap, and that was one of the main reasons for rejecting the original application in 2007.

Watch this space.


Nobody in the right minds would have drawn some of the local authority boundaries we are saddled with in Wales if they were starting out with a blank sheet of paper, but when the former county of Dyfed was chopped up into its old constituent parts, Newcastle Emlyn found itself once again split into two. Roughly 60% lies in Carmarthenshire, while the rest, officially not Newcastle Emlyn at all but Adpar, lies in Ceredigion.

This bureaucratic arrangement causes all sorts of problems; not because the two local authorities are at loggerheads, but rather because there is usually no incentive for them to work together.

One consequence of this division is that Newcastle Emlyn is about to find itself the victim of two separate Local Development Plans. Although in theory the two counties are supposed to work together and exchange information, a proposed development in Adpar shows that the town faces a serious risk of falling between two stools.

Plans have been submitted for outline planning for 17 housing units in a field off a small lane known as Parc y Trap in Adpar by a local businessman and developer (reference A130608). Six of the proposed new dwellings would be flats classed as affordable homes. The development would be the first phase of a larger development of up to 41 dwellings.

The developer previously submitted an application for 5 dwellings on the site in 2007, and the application was refused partly because of access problems at the junction to the main road (the B4571).

According to the developer's agent, the access problems could now be overcome, and the site was included in Ceredigion's Unitary Development Plan.

It is not, however, a part of the proposed Local Development Plan. If the agents are to be believed, the council's planners have admitted that this was an oversight (!)

The agent also gives the impression in the statement accompanying the application that objections from local residents have been overcome largely because "they have become resigned to it", although there are those who strongly object.

Navigating through LDP documentation is not easy, but the Ceredigion Local Development Plan appears to provide for 35 new dwellings in Adpar in addition to 19 other dwellings with outstanding consents.

Across the river the Carmarthenshire Development Plan provides for 89 new dwellings, not including outstanding consents.

Bearing in mind that the combined population of Newcastle Emlyn and Adpar is roughly 1,500, the combined allocations of the two LDPs would make for approximately 150 new dwellings over and above what we have today (including outstanding consents). The Parc y Trap site would give the green light for a further 41 dwellings.

If these allocations were all taken up, the net effect would be a population increase of around 25% by the year 2021.

Under current market conditions that is a big 'if', but conditions could change and the result would be a dramatic increase in the size of the town bringing all sorts of problems in its wake.

The Ceredigion LDP recognises that potential new building land is in very short supply in Newcastle Emlyn and Adpar because of the terrain (very steep hills and a river valley liable to flooding).

In addition to that, as local people know, the road system can barely cope with existing traffic levels at times, and neither of the LDPs contains any proposals to do anything about that. Realistically, it is not at all obvious what they could do given the geography of the area.

Neither of the LDPs addresses other infrastructure problems. The primary school and the secondary school are either full or running at close to capacity, and there is no sign of any new funding for school buildings in this part of Carmarthenshire for a very long time to come. Moreover, the GP surgery (in Adpar) can hardly accommodate any further growth in demand.

We have to assume that the developer knows what he is doing and that there is demand for 17 new dwellings in Adpar, but as local estate agents and residents could confirm, the market for existing properties is still effectively moribund. Not only are there quite a few empty properties around, but many more have been languishing on the market, sometimes for years, without finding a buyer.

A short way down the road from Adpar is the small village of Cwm Cou where I counted 7 "for sale" signs in the space of roughly 200 yards just the other day. The houses are a mix of large and small; all look good and they are all in a very attractive location.

Any recovery in the housing market would be likely to release a flood of more sellers.

Where there is demand is in the private rented sector, and of course for social housing where there is a desperate shortage. One local woman and her young son with deep roots in the town have lost their home in tragic circumstances. The best the council can do for them is to re-house them in Carmarthen, despite all of the empty properties and decent homes going for rather less than the cost of a new-build.

Neither of the LDPs will do anything to address that problem.

If the Parc y Trap development is allowed to go ahead, it will make a nonsense of the two LDPs, neither of which has yet come into force. The obvious thing to do would be for the two councils to go back to the drawing board and adjust their proposed housing allocations accordingly, but of one thing we can be certain: that will not happen.

Anyone concerned about the effect of this proposal on the town should contact either Cllr Hazel Evans (Carmarthenshire) or Cllr Towyn Evans (Ceredigion).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ceredigion Local Development was adopted in April 2013 and the application site has been excluded from the defined Settlement Limits of Adpar. The current application (which was submitted after the LDP was adopted and site excluded) is for phase 1 (17 dwellings)but the developer is hoping to get 41 units on the site in total. That's over 100 traffic movements approx per day for phase 1 and 250 movements when both phases are complete with all traffic accessing onto Parc-y-Trap Road a single road which has difficulty coping with the existing traffic. Also the site is on a steep slope and Derwen Gardens lies directly below it - where will the surface water go?