Thursday 2 October 2014

Planning; A local victory

I'd like to mention a story in this week's Carmarthen Journal concerning a planning victory for local Carmarthen residents as it's a twist in the tale from a post I had written eighteen months or so ago.

Way back in April 2013 the council's executive board decided to sell off 86 small pieces of council owned land for potential development.

There were objections put forward against four of the areas being sold, one of which was at Cae Bryn Drain, Carmarthen where Bro Myrddin Housing Association appeared to be lined up to build homes on a green space used by local children.

The Board 'noted' the objections (in council-speak this means 'ignored'), which included a 278 name petition to protect the Cae Bryn Drain site, and resolved to proceed with the sales anyway. Naturally.

Also on that agenda, there happened to be another item in which Welsh Government guidance required local authorities to protect green spaces, where possible, for children to play and to consider the impact if it ever decided to sell off such sites. This guidance was accepted.

See my 2013 post; 'Open play areas and black holes'

This contradiction was pointed out at the following full council meeting and board members were accused of not listening to residents. Kevin Madge waffled on about not being able to afford to cut the grass, they needed the money, etc at these sites, and it was the only sensible way forward blah blah. That was that.

Fast forward to last week's planning committee meeting and up with a recommendation for approval by planning officers was an application by Bro Myrddin for four affordable dwellings on the Cae Bryn Drain site.

Undoubtedly there needs to be properly affordable homes but this proposal was on the only green space in the middle of several dwellings and had been designated as an 'open space' in the original planning permission, and used as such by the families, for more than thirty years.

The new development would mean that children would have needed to cross a busy road to access the nearest playground several hundred metres away.

The families have continued with their campaign to preserve this small green space and local member, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths (Plaid) reminded the planning committee last week of the contradiction over open, 'green space' play provision.

He said that any development on this site would be contrary to the council's own policy to provide open space adopted at that earlier Exec Board meeting.  After a site visit the committee rejected the application. Cllr Hughes Griffiths said; "These are two areas of guidance which were ignored as part of the report to the planning committee. That should not have happened and I will be asking further questions."

Campaigners, Cae Bryn Drain. (pic source Carmarthen Journal)

The housing association has, of course, the right of appeal but it shows that if local campaigners stick to their guns for long enough, sometimes you will get the desired result, if not quite through the avenue you first thought.

Full story; Carmarthen Journal

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