Tuesday 8 January 2019

My Request to the Welsh government minister to "Call In" the planning application for the Welllness Project

I have been asked to put this letter on my blog. Applications can be called in by Government Planning Ministers for examination by their planning experts if they contradict planning policy Wales as I believe this one does under TAN 15 and TAN 5. It may also be argued that it is lacking in other areas which have already been pointed out in correspondence between Carms CC and Natural Resources Wales. I feel the application is being rushed and the Committee members not fully informed. Of course this could end up as just a political battle between the "ruling" Plaid//Independent coalition and the Labour opposition but I hope that all parties search their consciences and at least wait for full information and the results of the investigations planned and current, of the issue at UK, Welsh Government, Wales Audit Office and Swansea University. This is not party political, but it may end up as a huge waste of public money.

 Re Carmarthenshire County Council’s Planning Application s/36948 to be determined 10th Jan  
To Welsh Government Planning Minister Julie James AM
7th Jan 2019
Dear Minister,
I wish to request a call -in of Carmarthenshire County Council’s planning application S/ 36948. I have several planning concerns. As you will be aware the Delta Lakes /Wellness /Neurosciences was part of the Swansea City Bay Deal but has stumbled on several issues such as the lack of any private investors, a flawed business case which has never been seen by the public and the suspension of 2 Swansea University academics involved with attempting to fund a project , possibly Improperly with a Welsh Government grant related to this site.
I am a member of Llanelli Flood Forum and am aware of the flooding problems we have had locally both recently and historically. Although only part of this site is in C type flood plains, the access roads are affected both by recent flooding and/or DAM maps predicted risk of flooding. I have pointed this out to the County Council but cannot see any mention in their planning information.
The site and its surroundings was severely flooded historically in 1896, and there have been 2 other incidents in the last century. In 1896 an Atlantic hurricane caused a 10 foot tidal surge. This hit the site and overwhelmed the sea defences. The site is being raised but I concerned that this will simply displace water to surrounding residences. However, as the Dafen Lake is now tidal, [poor maintenance has led to this]. the sea already comes in under the rusted sluice gate now stuck in an open position. In the planning document it seems the lake is thought to still be fresh water with a controlled release. I believe TAN 15 instructs no building on C type floodplains except on;y necessary infrastructure . The planning documents suggest they are looking to build on the flood plain areas.
Natural Resources Wales has been having correspondence with the Council during the past year and have been unhappy with several matters and these are made clear in the relevant documents filed under s/36948 The documents released with the application make vague statements about NRW’s advice and conditions which they may impose on the planning application. I suspect that NRW have been given insufficient responses and poor or no information on some topics.. The information given to the councillors is insufficient. They appear to be asked to make decisions on unknown NRW conditions to yet be decided.
Welsh Water /Dwr Cymru are already developing a site on the margins of the Wellness area. Due to the severe sewage pollution of the Loughor Estuary a major £96 million “Rainscape” project to remove surface water from the whole of South Llanelli is under construction. The new pumping station will transfer tons of surface water from South Llanelli into the lake, especially after heavy rains, but the scheme does not come on line until 2020. This effect on the hydrology of the site is not mentioned . There is also an adjacent sewage pumping station that has an outfall into the site.
DCWW has had correspondence with the council and it suggests that they need significant extra funding from CCC to make requested changes to the site and need careful staging to be able to support the development. This is not mentioned in the meeting documents online. When I visited the new attenuation tanks and pumps with the Flood Forum, DCWW staff mentioned that they believed that there was quite a lot of copper in the lake water. The lake was made by filling up a commercial dock with landfill, content of which was not documented. Copper works were nearby. The Council has not recently tested water or soil for contamination according to the reports. I dispute the CCC assertion that pollution is not a problem. How do they know?
NRW seemed unhappy in their correspondence about poor assessment of wildlife such as otters and birds. No mention of this is in the meeting documents. Proper assessments were being requested. Where are they?
I represent the Hengoed Ward which contains the Sandy Roundabout and am very unhappy about the suggestions for improvement of the current awful situation after the increase in traffic caused by the new housing developments and expansion of local schools and sixth form college. This roundabout is where the Wellness Centre western access road meets the A484 and there is no clarity on how the current gridlocked traffic will be dealt with. My residents already suffer damgerously high levels of air pollution. Widening road access on the roundabout cannot improve the gridlock caused in great part by traffic lights further on these roads, which are narrow residential roads and cannot be widened. The pollution will only be worsened by more traffic unless the flow can be improved along the length of the A484. The traffic plans are not practical. I therefore dispute the findings of the Council’s public protection statement on air quality.
Although the business case , thought to be flawed, is not a direct planning concern, its absence provides poor background guidance for the project for the councillors to make an informed judgement on the project.
With the UK Government, Welsh government, Swansea University and the Wales Audit office all investigating various questionable aspects of the Wellness Project, why is it being rushed to determination with the planning committee having incomplete and perhaps misleading information?
Does the Council leader think that if he starts building the various bodies will not look at the details and let the project proceed? I ask that you instruct your own planning department to check the validity and propriety of this application .
 Siân Caiach

1 comment:

  1. Well put Sian. Plus with the news that our esteemed CEO is soon retiring maybe Carmarthenshire County Council can have a thorough spring clean and remove all the self interested officers and Members who helped keep him in post by coverup, turning a blind eye and silencing dissenters. We need people like you, Jacqui Thompson, Cllr Rob James (if he carries on fighting for the public interest even if/when labour runs the CCC) and other local bloggers who have tried to raise awareness of our CCC's misbehaviours. There will be many of the same caliber as our CEO who will want to replace him and we have seen how the Welsh Government and Ombudsman have tiptoed around unwilling to sort out the rot festering away in our Council. Misconduct in Public Office must be kept as a crime and used by Police and the CPS where the wrongdoing is not covered by another criminal offence. Retiring early must not safeguard him or others who have left from being held to account. Until that happens we will continue to have such people in high positions in our public bodies who care nothing about our interests only their own and their cronies. Well that's off my chest. Keep up the good work Sian.


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