A call-in request has been made to the Welsh Government concerning the proposed Sainsbury store in Llandeilo by William Powell, Lib Dem Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales. As I said in this post, this application is due to be considered by Carmarthenshire Council Planning Committee meeting on Thursday (29th March);
(I have copied the text here for clarity)
E/25041: Proposed Sainsbury Store at Llandeilo – Call in request
Following an extensive planning period Carmarthenshire County Council will consider the above application on Thursday 29th March, 2012. Since the plans were originally made public it is clear that the case being presented has changed substantially, and as such the development’s numerous objectors have only been given three working days to consider their response and how the proposal will impact the local area. This is unacceptable and I am formally requesting the calling in of the application by your office, in order for it to be given the full oversight and consideration it requires.
As the Carmarthenshire County Council Planning Committee Report makes clear, the current proposals represent a significant departure from planning guidance E7 and R7 and in doing so clearly states that “the proposal would conflict with development plan policy in respect [to] loss of employment land and the site’s position relative to the town centre.”
While this conflict, and the lack of time made available for public exploration of the amended application, should be enough to justify a call in alone; I am also deeply concerned about the cumulative retail impact of related proposals to the sounding area. The Llandeilo proposal must be considered in tandem with further proposed Sainsbury’s superstores in Ammanford and Cross Hands. Given the perilous condition of rural market towns across Wales it is essential that any and all applications be considered with respect to the need to sustain small businesses and the health and viability of town centres. As such wider questions must be asked about the regional impact of these cumulative proposals and whether the damage done to, and jobs lost from small businesses as a result, outweighs the potential benefits of periphery development E/25041.
Furthermore, the lack of time afforded to existing and other potential objectors has not allowed sufficient resources to be devoted to a full and comprehensive environmental assessment of how the amended proposal impacts on the surrounding Afon Tywi flood-plain. It is clear that any developments on such plains must benefit from a full and proper analysis, and that the Carmarthenshire County Council Planning Committee Report highlights the fact that the proposal is yet to receive a formal response from the Countryside Council for Wales. It is of principal importance that development decisions be taken with full respect given to their potential impact on biodiversity and the wider ecological impact upon the surrounding environment. It is clear that this has yet to fully occur in this case.
Taken together it is clear that further work needs to be done to ensure that the people of Llandeilo get the best possible solution for their needs. While it is apparent that Carmarthenshire County Council is minded to accept the current proposal, I argue the necessity for calling in so that time is allowed for critics to fully respond, and that a complete picture is gained of how to best benefit the area.
William Powell AM
John Griffiths AM
Kirsty Williams AM
Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM
Jonathan Edwards MP
Update 29th March; I hear that both the Llandeilo and the Cross Hands stores were approved by the planning committee today.
I also understand that the application for Llandeilo may be referred to the Welsh Assembly anyway as it is a departure from policy (E7 and R7) and comes under the criteria of the 'Shopping Directive' for retail developments and so must be referred.