PLANS to build 28 houses on part of the former Whitland Creamery site were passed by Carmarthenshire County Council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday (Aug 30), contrary to officer recommendations.
Introducing the plans, Helen Rice said that while the site had been originally earmarked for employment and mixed use, comments from the Welsh Government and concerns about flooding had meant that the site was designated for proposed and existing employment uses under the Local Development Plan.
Ms Rice added that while the applicants had tried to comply with criteria for changing the use categorisation, it was the view of the council that once employment land was lost, particularly in a central location like this site, it was very difficult to replace.
She also pointed out that of the three sites designated as employment sites in the LDP in Whitland, the other two were currently being developed, meaning that this was the last available land for new employment opportunities in the area, and that any housing development could run the risk of ‘sterilising’ other land to the south marked for employment.
“At this time, it is not thought that the benefits outweigh the loss of employment land created 18 months previously,” Ms Rice added.
However, local County Councillor, Sue Allen, pointed out that no work, other than partial demolition, had been carried out on the site for almost a quarter of a century.
“Whitland needs to move forward without this ghost of the dairy site haunting the character of the town,” she added.
Cllr Allen also claimed that the complete absence of response to the consultation from the local community was caused by ‘the futility felt by residents about giving a view’, and quoted Chief Executive Mark James, who 15 years ago said: “We need a clear vision for the future of the town to provide it with a long term sustainable future and cannot overstress the importance of local residents having their say on the future of the site.’’
She added that the focus on employment use for the site had ‘failed and failed’, and claimed that some of the sites included in the residential allocation for Whitland were ‘still sitting within the development plans after half a century or more’.
“I assume they were possibly included at the time the dairy site expanded in the fifties as a replacement for the demolition of town centre housing. These sites are a mile or more from the town centre and very windy!” she added.
Cllr Anthony Jones asked whether nearby industrial units were fully occupied, following Cllr Allen’s claim that they ‘couldn’t even give units away’.
He was told that occupancy ‘fluctuated’, but the units had a history of being in use.
Cllr Kevin Madge agreed it was ‘astonishing’ that 10 years after the creation of the Masterplan, nothing had happened.
However, he pointed out that granting permission for residential and business properties next to each other could lead to noise and dust pollution for residents in the future. “What we decide today could have implications down the line,” he added.
“If we grant this, it could make people unwilling to invest in the future.”
Cllr Ken Howell proposed that the committee followed the officer recommendation for refusal, pointing out that it was the last site allocated for employment in the town which had not been developed.
However, Cllr Jones claimed that any developer looking to develop the site would have to put some houses there to pay for work to the rest of the site.
Chair of the Planning Committee, Cllr Alun Lenny, remarked that no one had justified a need for housing on that site, and this was supported by Planning Officer Julian Edwards, who said that ‘sufficient’ allocation of housing had been made in the town.
The committee voted to go against the officer recommendation and approve planning by eight votes to six, meaning that permission was granted subject to a report regarding affordable housing.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Allen said: “I am greatly relieved that this singular option was supported by the committee on a very small part of the site that was once an award-winning garden. It may trigger other service businesses to start up on the site and residents will easily reach town centre local shops and amenities. It will be sustaining our existing businesses.”
She added that ‘all sorts of options’ had been explored for the site, including a Doctors Surgery and new Primary School, but that this application was ‘the first concrete step’.
“Industrial has simply not delivered. SME’s are important to rural wards and creating the climate for them to flourish should be at the forefront of government strategy,” she added.
“As with many SME businesses, they prefer to expand on their existing location, building on the security of their success. As above, the dairies did exactly this.
“In Whitland, we have so many businesses expanding on the outskirts of the town. Magstim for example has just built an extension and temporarily used a unit at the dairy site whilst this was completed,” she added, also referencing Whitland Engineering as a firm currently expanding.
“This expansion has happened after the LDP consequently accepted my request for the site visit. Obviously the length of time this whole site has been without a sustainable future is still a massive issue.”
However, Cllr Lenny told The Herald that this ‘blatant deviation’ from the Local Development Plan was not justified:
“During the Planning Committee visit to the site of Whitland Creamery on Tuesday, I remembered doing a live broadcast for S4C news from the very same spot on a dark October evening in 1994, reporting on the bombshell that the factory was closing with the loss of almost 200 jobs,” he said.
“For another ten years or so, the factory buildings stood as a reminder of past prosperity. After the buildings were demolished, there’s been a vast empty space in the heart of Whitland. So I can well understand local people’s frustration.
“But there was no justification, in my view, for such a blatant deviation from the Local Development Plan for Whitland, which designates this land for economic development. Whitland stands at the centre of a large rural hinterland and may need land for commercial development, related possibly to agriculture, in future.
“There are other sites in the town allocated by the LDP for housing. I asked those who voted in favour of going against officer’s recommendation and allow house building on employment land if they had any evidence of increased demand for housing in Whitland. There was no reply.
“The site where the milk factory actually stood, across the River Gronw from the area considered by the Planning Committee on Tuesday, is now a barren piece of concreted land. The Welsh Government, in its wisdom or otherwise, refused to include that large site close to the centre of Whitland in the LDP, on the grounds of flood risk.
“Yet it stands on the same level as St Mary’s Street, the police station, Canolfan Hywel Dda and most of the rest of the town centre. I believe that when the LDP comes up for review, the old Whitland creamery site, which has no development status at present, must be looked at once again.”
Carmarthenshire’s sensory garden: why locals should embrace this wellness trend
WITH ‘#sensorygarden’ 499.1k views on TikTok – locals have the advantage of experiencing a sensory garden on their doorstep at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Wildlife experts explain why you should visit.
Wildlife expert Sean McMenemy shares how sensory gardens can do wonders for our wellness whilst providing a safe haven for wildlife and encourages Carmarthenshire locals to visit their local sensory garden this autumn.
A sensory garden is an outdoor space that stimulates the five senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste, and can be created in your own garden. Sensory gardens at home remain relatively rare, but the trend is growing with the TikTok hashtag ‘#sensorygarden’ amassing 499.1k views*.
Carmarthenshire, dubbed the Garden of Wales, has a huge array of beautiful green spaces to explore. It’s home to the National Botanic Garden of Wales which spans a huge 568 acres, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The stunning Great Glasshouse features a sensory trail that explores the largest single-span greenhouse in the world! From fluffy flowers from South Africa to a strongly scented Australian plant, it’ll engage all your senses.
Having recently gifted King Charles with a beautiful oak sapling, the National Botanic Garden of Wales care deeply about the nation’s natural heritage. For those visiting the garden, the paths are wheelchair accessible with manual wheelchairs available on site. Open 10am – 6pm every day of the week.
Wildlife expert and founder of bird food provider Ark Wildlife, Sean McMenemy, explains the benefits of sensory gardening: “Sensory gardens provide a great deal of physical and mental benefits for different people and purposes. From getting vitamin D from sunlight to improving physical fitness by maintaining a garden, there are several physical benefits. Mentally, you can benefit from a mood boost and relaxation by spending time surrounded by calming stimulation.
“Sensory gardens can also have huge benefits for children, older people, those with learning disabilities and those who struggle with their physical and mental health. You can also create a sensory garden for your pets and garden wildlife!”
Top tips for creating your own sensory garden
If you do have the outdoor space, creating your own sensory garden is therapeutic in itself and doesn’t need to be a complicated process. The most important thing is to ensure that the garden engages all five senses.
Melody Estes, landscape design gardening supervisor, says: “Whether you’re new to gardening or a seasoned pro, you can always improve your garden by adding some sensory elements.”
Here are some tips from Melody for creating a sensory garden:
Sight – Plant colourful flowers that change with the seasons.
Sound – If you have a fountain or water feature on your property, consider adding some relaxing music to play alongside it. You could also place chimes near your front door to welcome people in.
Smell – Use scent. Consider planting scented flowers or herbs like lavender, rosemary and thyme that will give off a lovely aroma when they bloom.
Touch – Mix textures. The texture of plants can be as important as their colour and shape. Try using plants with soft leaves like ferns or grasses that are texturally different.
Taste – Planting herbs, fruits and vegetables not only provide tasty treats, but is a sustainable source of food.
Sean McMenemy adds: “Sensory gardens are an easy way to engage with wildlife and the outdoor environment. Growing your own plants and vegetables provides countless ways to learn about the natural world.
“You can bring your sensory garden to life by using bird feeders to attract beautiful feathered friends into your garden. They’ll bring the sound element to your sensory garden naturally. Fragrant flowers will attract colourful butterflies and other pollinators to your garden, giving you something to observe whilst helping nature to thrive.”
Some people may not have the time, money or space to create their own sensory garden. However, those with balconies and window ledges can still plant colourful, sweet-smelling flowers and edible plants. This mini sensory garden can still provide the benefits and satisfaction of an outdoor garden.
Prince and Princess of Wales to visit Wales
THE PRINCE and Princess of Wales have planned a trip to Wales to visit a variety of communities across the nation and learn about the work of key charitable organisations.
The Prince and Princess have a deep affection for Wales, having made their first family home in Anglesey, and have thoroughly enjoyed their previous visits and the warmth and kindness shown by the Welsh people.
Their Royal Highnesses are looking forward to spending more time in Wales over the next few years, they hope to strengthen their relationship with communities in all parts of Wales.
During their first engagement, Their Royal Highnesses will visit the RNLI Holyhead Lifeboat Station, where they will meet crew, volunteers and some people who have been supported by their local unit.
Holyhead is one of the three oldest lifeboat stations on the Welsh coast and has a remarkable history of bravery, having received 70 awards for gallantry.
Their Royal Highnesses will then take a short walk to the Holyhead Marine and Cafe Bar, where they will meet local people, including representatives of small businesses and organisations, including the Coastguard and Sea Cadets.
In their second engagement, the Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to visit Swansea.
Their Royal Highnesses will visit St Thomas Church, a re-developed church in Swansea which supports people in the local area and across the City and County of Swansea.
Over the last two years the church has been transformed into a thriving community hub and is home to a vast array of services, including:
- A foodbank which supports over 200 people per week
- Swansea Baby Basics which distributes essential items for vulnerable mothers across the city, such as toiletries and clothes
- Facilities for the homeless including food, showers and toilets
- A not-for-profit cafe and community training kitchen
- A surplus food distribution network which collects food from supermarkets at the end of each day and distributes it from the church to prevent food waste and to help end food poverty
As part of their visit, Their Royal Highnesses will meet those volunteering at the church across different initiatives including Baby Basics and the foodbank. Their Royal Highnesses will also spend some time meeting members of the public gathered outside the church.
The Princess of Wales has previously worked with Baby Banks and the in summer of 2020 brought together 19 British brands and retailers to donate over 10,000 new items to more than 40 baby banks nationwide, operated by Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities.
Her Royal Highness has visited a number of baby banks across the UK, including in London, Sheffield and West Norfolk where she has spent time speaking with families about their experiences of using their local baby bank services, as well as helping unload donations.
Carmarthenshire farmer dies following attack by bull near Llandeilo
A FARMER has died following an incident with a bull on a farm in Llandeilo.
The 58-year-old, named locally as Maldwyn Harrier, was attacked by the animal during a TB test on Friday morning.
Police have confirmed that they were called to a farm in the Penybanc area of Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, and are investigating alongside the Health and Safety Executive.
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