Public inquiry draws to a close

Thursday 3rd March 2011 12:00 am
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THE public inquiry into the redevelopment of the former army camp at Cwrt y Gollen, near Crickhowell concluded last Thursday, but the result will not be known for some weeks.

The inspector, Alwyn Nixon will submit his report to the National Assembly and the minister will make the final decision based on his recommendations and conclusions.

The Brecon Beacons National Park authority refused to grant planning permission to Crickhowell Estates in June 2010 and the company has appealed against that decision.

The scheme includes 200 houses, a pre-school nursery, residential care home, allotments and a community orchard.

Adrian Trevelyan Thomas for Crickhowell Estates said considerable effort went into agreeing the terms of the development brief.

A steering group was set up by the planning authority in May 2007, membership included representatives from the BBNPA, Powys County Council, the Vale of Grwyney Community Council and Crickhowell Town Council as well as the developer.

The group met on nine occasions between May 2007 and August 2008; in addition to the main meetings there were two workshops as well as three sub-group meetings.

As part of the process the community council and the town council arranged public meetings in July 2007 and January 2008 to gauge views. The brief was approved by the Steering Group in August 2008 and endorsed by the planning authority in September 2008.

Mr Trevelyan Thomas added: "The redevelopment of previously developed land is sustainable as is the proposal to restore the parkland and provide public access to it, particularly for those living nearby.

"Both the site and Glangwryney are within easy cycling distance of Crickhowell, and the provision of a cycleway will improve non-car linkages between the two settlements.

"Further the agreed financing of an extra bus as provided for in the Section 106 agreement will assist in encouraging non car based transport. Given the nature of the rural areas of the National Park the site is well related to Crickhowell."

He concluded: "The proposal can only bring benefit to the existing settlement of Glangwryney. Although there will be change it should be positive in that a disused and empty site which is already developed with large and monolithic structures will be replaced by a living community in a well designed and sympathetic housing development.

"The parkland will be restored as a substantial area of public open space together with allotments, a community orchard and a leisure area on the old cricket ground.

"In addition the outdoor rifle range will be replaced by an acoustically insulated indoor range removing the noise of frequent firing from the locality.

"The scheme provides additional employment both in the development as well as jobs in the care home and pre school nursery."

Councillor Susan Shaw, chairman of the Vale of Grwyney Community Council said to allow the appeal would be tantamount to the end of their community as they know it.

"In our view there should not be any planning policies that excuse the destruction of our community by allowing 250 dwellings to be added to our village of less than 30 houses, together with the 35 houses on Dan y Gollen and 14 on Martell Way."

She claimed that neither the community council nor Crickhowell Town Council was invited to the meeting where the final development brief was agreed.

"Nothing we have heard at the appeal has dissuaded us that the stretch of the A40 to which the development leads will not become a death trap."

Town Planner Peter Draper, appearing for the community council said the proposal for the Cwrt y Gollen site was not included in the Brecon Beacons National Park authority Local Plan, which was adopted in 1999, and neither was the site earmarked for development in the current Local Development Plan which covers up to the year 2022.

Clare Parry for Powys County Council said their involvement was as the housing authority for the area and she pointed out that the rural housing enabler had told the appeal that the affordable housing provision would have a detrimental effect on the National Park and he felt it should be spread over the three villages of Llanbedr, Llangenny and Glangrwyney.

Geoffrey Stephenson for the Brecon Beacons National Park said the application had made no attempt to satisfy their planning policies and on that ground the appeal should fail.

He said although the site had been included in the Unitary Development Plan the new Local Plan, which will be adopted in about a year's time, should be afforded greater weight because it is relevant now.

The site is not included in that document for development. He said not all brownfield sites were suitable for development and this is open countryside so the proposal should be dealt with on its merits.

He added: "It will disrupt the existing settlement and is far too big, that is the nub of the matter. The character of the village of Glangrwyney will be lost and it will be two separate villages living cheek by jowl. It will be a settlement without the benefit of services so cars will have to be used."

He concluded: "This development will impact adversely on the natural beauty of the national park and on Glangrwyney itself."

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