Tuesday 28 May 2013

'Pot luck' planning

On the 23rd May a planning application was passed for a development of 61 houses in Llandovery, there was considerable opposition, one objection being that the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) only allowed for 32.

A last minute Addendum was added to the planning officer's report which limited the development to 32 houses until such time as the Local Development Plan (still in the process of examination and consideration) was adopted. This Addendum was accepted and approved along with the application.

Contrast that with an earlier decision (28th March) to allow 289 homes in Penybanc, Ammanford. Similar arguments had been put forward that the UDP only allowed for 150, but in this case, there was no similar limitation on the development and the argument that this was nearly double the number allowed under the UDP was dismissed.

Plaid Cymru's Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM has issued a strong statement accusing the planning department of inconsistency and calling on the Welsh Government to urgently intervene;

‘Potluck’ policies in county planning authority 
Plaid AM hits out at inconsistent approach to developments 
Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Rhodri Glyn Thomas has this week launched a resounding attack on county planners for their inconsistent approach to assessing planning applications – calling for the intervention of the Welsh government as a matter of urgency. 
Rhodri’s statement comes a result of county planners curtailing a proposed development of 61 properties in Llandovery on the basis that the authority’s Unitary Development Plan (UDP) only permits 32 properties to be built at the site. This decision comes just weeks after 289 properties were approved on a Penybanc site that almost doubled the maximum UDP limit of one hundred and fifty. 
Branding the inconsistent approach as “astonishing”, the Plaid Cymru politician said developers and communities face ‘potluck’ when it comes to what policies are used to assess planning applications. 
The Carmarthen East & Dinefwr AM said:
“I said last week that planning policies aren’t worth the paper their written on. Little did I know that just a few days later my comments would be strengthened by this astonishing action by the planning authority. 
“My opposition to the Penybanc development is well documented – as is my deep disappointment at the total disregard for local opinion, planning policy and the Welsh language. 
“But the inconsistencies in the assessment process leaves developers and communities in a potluck situation when it comes to what policies are used to assess applications. 
“A planning authority cannot be allowed to use a policy to curtail a development on one site, but disregard that same policy to approve a development almost double the size the policy permits on another site. 
“I will be writing to the Minister and seeking the intervention of the Welsh government as a matter of urgency. Moving the goalposts completely undermines the planning process and is something no Carmarthenshire resident should have to put up with”.
(Full article here


Anonymous said...

AM talking crap. An application does not get refused because it breaches an individual planning policy but measured on a scales of balance between the pros and the cons of all the material planning considerations.

Also the call for consistency is asking the planning department to act illegally. You can't have "consistency" because you have to legally take each individual application on its individual merits. No two applications are identical so to be "consistent" would be illegal.

I would hope the only thing the planning committee is consistent in is consistent in the process.

Owen said...

At some point, planning powers will be up for discussion once local authority collaboration is reviewed, or whenever the Welsh Government's Planning Bill is introduced.

Decisions like these point towards too much inconsistency between local authorities and their application of planning rules. So there'll be a strong case to take planning powers away from councils and perhaps apply them on a regional basis instead.

They (CCC) might be undermining their own authority by consistently pulling stunts like this.

Anonymous said...

Just an observation to the comment made by Anonymous 17:41....

I don't think it is unreasonable (or illegal for that matter) to expect a planning department to apply policies with consistency. I'd agree with Rhodri Glyn Thomas when he says the exact same policy (UDP) can't be IGNORED in one application, but used to place a condition on another application.

Completely disregarding the UDP in the Penybanc application is hardly taking into account all "material planning considerations". I mean, the UDP is supposed to be the 'bible' of planning policy in the county - when it suits the council, that is.

I for one hope the government does something about this - the planning department in Carmarthenshire is an absolute joke.

Good to see our AM fighting our corner on this.

Anonymous said...

Who are the applicants in the two examples?

Anonymous said...

I think we are all asking too much for Carl Sargeant to intervene in anything to do with CCC. As indeed history shows when he was Minister for Local Government and calls were made for him to intervene with certain dubious goings on then. He just won't!!!

caebrwyn said...

Anon 23.20

The applicant for the Penybanc development is Swallow Property Developments and the planning reference number is E/21663.
The Llandovery application was made by the owners of a local farm, planning ref, E/26681.