In an important judgement, the High Court has come down against Carmarthenshire County Council and a developer, Castletown Estates Ltd, and upheld a decision by the Welsh Government to refuse planning for the former Grillo Zinc Oxide Works at Burry Port.
The judicial review would seem to mark the end of a long and complex battle which saw the application approved by the council and upheld at a planning inquiry. That is unless the council decides to throw more money into further court battles.
You can read the judgement in full here, but perhaps the most important line in it reads as follows:
Throughout the whole period of the planning application
the flood maps have shown the extreme flood outline running across the
site – it is a straight line at one point. The relevant DAM [Development Advice Map] has a
significant part of the site within zone C2, the remainder within zone
Under national planning policy, what is termed "highly vulnerable development" should not be permitted in a C2 flood zone, and residential development is classed as highly vulnerable. Castletown intended to build 230 houses on the site along with a retail/leisure component.
Unlike some of the more controversial developments approved by the county council, the proposed development at Burry Port appears to have had support in the local community, and it is understandable that people would want to see the redevelopment of an eyesore.
Rather less understandable is the council's zeal in supporting an application which always had a question mark about flooding hanging over it. Residents in Penybanc will also note that once again the council bent over backwards for a developer holed up in an offshore tax haven - the Isle of Man in the case of the Grillo site, and Guernsey in the case of Penybanc.
What both the Isle of Man and Guernsey offer is both very favourable tax treatment and an almost complete lack of transparency when it comes to finding out who is behind companies registered there, but as we have seen from the ongoing pensions scandal, allowing the rich and powerful to find ways of avoiding tax is absolutely fine in the eyes of County Hall.
The Grillo judgement will also be read with considerable interest by people objecting to the council's Stradey Park development in Llanelli. They will note that if the Grillo site was questionable, the Stradey Park scheme is doubly so because unlike Grillo, the development at Stradey will have a detrimental effect on neighbouring properties.
Unfortunately for the people of Llanelli, the council long ago managed to tie the Welsh Government up in knots.