This is a post of local interest to the town of Welshpool in Montgomeryshire. Tonight, I called in at a public meeting of residents living near to the site of a proposed large housing development. Reason I'm posting is that the proposals are cloaked in controversy, and are being considered against a backdrop of much complexity. My aim is not to express opinion on the proposals, but to spread a little understanding.
Lets begin by explaining that all but two of Welshpool's Town Councillors have a dual role. Not only are they elected to represent the interests of Welshpool people, but by dint of their position, serve as trustees on the Burgess Lands Trust. The other two were at tonight's meeting. In this latter capacity, the Trustees decided to sell an area of land to a local housebuilder in order to realise a sum of money for investment in the Town's facilities - and have submitted a planning application to Powys County Council. Normally, the application, which was submitted in April and was for 112 houses, would have been processed by planning officers based at Llandrindod Wells accustomed to dealing with major applications - but as a result of a deluge of proposals for wind farms, the application was 'delegated' to officers at the Welshpool office. They were not at all happy with the proposals, and arranged a 'design review' by the Design Commission, based in Cardiff - who I'm told were extremely critical of the proposals. In response to the Design Commission comments, an amendment has been proposed, changing the design and reducing the number of houses to 90. Not for me to report on tonight's meeting but I feel safe to say that the residents continue to have serious concerns.
There are many complex side issues, which confuse things, and divert attention from the main point - which seems to be quite simple. The Town Clerk, in his capacity as the servant of the Burgess Lands Trustees has submitted a planning application of major importance to Welshpool. The Powys Planning Authority must satisfy itself that the proposals are acceptable for the site, taking all planning considerations into account. If the Authority is satisfied, the application should be granted - and if not satisfied, the application should be refused. Any attempt to stop this site being developed is likely to fail. But concerned residents are surely right to form an organised group, primed to ensure that the planners are supported in their insistence on the best possible design. Comment and opinion is welcomed. This is a space to be watched.