Sunday 31 May 2015

Grillo: "Let's get on with it"

Nobody wants to see the former Grillo site in Burry Port left the way it is - an abandoned post-industrial wasteland - but the devil is in the detail as usual, and there are serious concerns about how decontamination will be carried out, flood risk and the impact the large development would have on the already seriously overloaded sewerage system with resulting further pollution of the Loughor and Carmarthen Bay. Network Rail has also expressed serious misgivings about the safety implications for a level crossing, with council officers appearing to dismiss the idea that a lot of new houses and other facilities would generate significant additional traffic.

In other words, enough to give anyone who does not have a vested financial interest in the development pause for thought.

Not so Cllr Pat Jones, the local Labour councillor who represented Carmarthenshire County Council in court when the council brought and lost a judicial review against the Welsh Government's veto on development a few years ago.

Cllr Jones has been a county councillor for a long time and is a substitute member of the planning committee for Labour. Given that one or two permanent Labour members of the committee are rare visitors to council meetings*, there is a pretty good chance that Cllr Jones would have been asked to take part in next week's meeting of the planning committee and make a decision.

Not any more, if her appearance in the South Wales Evening Post is taken into consideration.

(Click on image to enlarge)

As any councillor with even a nodding acquaintance of planning rules should know, even a whiff of a suggestion that planning committee members had made up their minds before determination of an application in committee could end up landing the council with some very large legal bills.

As far as we know, the six inter-linked applications are still currently being considered by civil servants in Cardiff who have to decide whether or not to call the applications in for determination, so even more intriguing than Pat Jones's call "to get this done" is who fed the SWEP with this story in the first place.

Indeed, the article itself is probably enough to trigger a call-in and have the decision taken out of the planning committee's hands; alternatively, it could form the basis for challenge and complaints of maladministration if next week's meeting does steam ahead full throttle.

* It seems that Keri Thomas has finally been taken off the planning committee, although thanks to the council's revamp of its website, membership of several key committees appears to have vanished from public view.


Anonymous said...

As a resident of Burry Port, I can assure readers that there are numerous attractive houses for sale in the town that are not selling as there does not appear to be the great demand for housing that Pat Jones claims. She does not represent the views of many in the area who are very concerned about this proposed development on Grillo site. The area is well known locally for its environmental toxicity. Sadly,the town councillors are either in ignorance or denial of these facts.

Furthermore, the town's Chamber of Trade has feared the competition from "out of town" developments at a time when they are struggling to keep their small businesses afloat.

Jac o' the North, said...

Councillor Jones is quoted as saying, "We need a lot of houses because people are moving here". So these people who are moving to Burry Port are currently living . . . where exactly, in tents, waiting for these houses to be built?

But she's not entirely wrong, for people are indeed moving to Burry Port, and that's due to the new housing that's been built in recent years. But there was little local demand for this, and most of the new houses on the Grillo site will also be bought by people from outside of the area, and from outside Wales.

The more I look at the housing strategy being pursued in Carmarthenshire the clearer it becomes that the guiding principle is 'Let's bring in as many people as possible who will not vote Plaid Cymru'. And while this strategy has many supporters in the council, from the chief executive down, it is instigated from without.

Anonymous said...

Many councillors on the planning committee regularly demonstrate that they only have a nodding acquaintance with planning rules. At the last meeting when the Grillo site was to have been discussed, the legal officer had to warn about predetermination.

Someone at the Council appears determined to get this site pushed through for the developer whatever the cost. Councillor Sian Caiach has pointed out that the Council even went to court on behalf of its owners, Castletown Estates Ltd. She has also speculated that the Council may have some residual liability to the developers if permission is not granted.

About time for the planning committee members to start asking some straight questions and insisting on some straight answers.

Anonymous said...

There is enough cheap and affordable housing in Burry port - ranging from 60k to 500K in the area.We do need to develop the harbour - a tidy road and car park and some shop development with restaurant would not go amiss and facitlites to increase visitor number so that people atually stay here and visit the town - it has to be joined up with the town which is struggling as not enough good shops here to bring people in . However not some shity chain and Ben and Jerrys but unfortuantely that is twe will get

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jac o the North. We locals from Burry Port and Pembrey are thoroughly fed up with the attendant congestion on our roads, sewage problems and the fact that our beautiful little town has been changed over the years for the worse. Until recently, we suffered a yearly mass invasion from Beach Break Live - which was strongly opposed by many residents. The councillors are in their own little bubble and blindly ingratiate themselves to the wishes of the CEO. But of course, their duties are quite lucrative...

Anonymous said...

The questions I would ask are:

•Who contaminated the land?

•Why they were allowed to do so?

•Why did they not have to clean it up before leaving?

•Why is the developer so keen to develop this contaminated site? (Is it because they paid very little for it, or do they think they will get large grants to offset the costs?)

It does not seem to add up. How many people will knowingly buy a house on a built up and covered contaminated site, when there is land elsewhere without this problem? Are the developers trying to get planning permission to increase the apparent value of the land, so they can raise money for other projects they have, or just sell on for profit?

Also, would you want what for most people is a major lifetime purchase, buying a house, in a location where there is an already seriously overloaded sewerage system, with resulting further pollution of the Loughor estuary and Carmarthen Bay, on your doorstep?

Insurance is another issue. Will it be available for properties build on contaminated land right by the sea?

It seems they are going to cover one source of contamination and put a new source on top!

Anonymous said...

The attitudes expressed in this page to " incomers" are disgraceful. What about the doctors, nurses , research scientists , carers, solicitors , teacher and so on. Do the people of Burry Port want to exclude talent, skills and knowledge and good people who can contribute to community life?
I am very sad

Anonymous said...

What negative attitude towards incomers? people are drawing attention to
1) conatmianted land being developed
2) further damage to the environment by sewage
3) inadequate infrastructure in the town
4)the surplus of housing in the area - both affordable, mid market and high end

Nobody has said anything about incomers - by the way I am one!I am all for a bit fresh blood! Heaven help us look what old blood turns out - Pat Jones and John James

Anonymous said...

Anon 8th June 12.21 makes a very strong point in reply to comment 4th June 00.10.
Both Pat and John James are well beyond their sell by dates and for the most part make unintelligible and ill informed comments. Heaven help us from the both.