More than 50 local residents living in Cosmeston, Lavernock, Sully and Penarth attended a public meeting at Penarth Athletic Club last night to plan their strategy to oppose the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s new allocation of 576 homes at Upper Cosmeston Farm .
The scheme is a newly-amended part the Vale Council’s “LDP” (Local Development Plan) – the latest draft of the document in which the council earmarks the sites across the Vale on which its required quota of 9,950 new homes can be built.
The original Vale Council “LDP “had allocated a total of 235 houses at Upper Cosmeston Farm.
Last month however the LDP was “tweaked” by the Vale Council in its so-called “Matters Arising” version – in which the number of houses allocated for Upper Cosmeston Farm was arbitrarily increased to 576.
Objectors say the Vale Council is slavishly obeying the diktats of the Welsh Labour Government and is paying little or no regard to the effect on the transport and educational infrastructure of Penarth, Cosmeston, Lavernock and Sully (a village which alone has a potential of almost 1,000 new homes in prospect).
It’s argued that the projected new homes are unnecessary, not needed and – if built – will create even worse commuter traffic jams in Penarth, even greater gridlock on junctions like the Merrie Harrier and force yet more children into local schools which are already oversubscribed.
The presentation and question-and-answer session was given by Cllr Kevin Mahoney (Independent, Sully ) with Cllr Bob Penrose (Independent, Sully) – both of whom are members of the Vale of Glamorgan Council, but are opposed to the current Labour administration’s proposed housing allocation for the now-enlarged green field coastal site at Upper Cosmeston Farm.
Cllr Mahoney described the new plans as “horrendous”. He explained that he and his fellow independent councillors had already lodged objections to the original 235 home plan for Upper Cosmeston. However as the Vale council had now more than doubled the number of homes allocated (to 576) anyone wishing to object to this revised figure had only until October 28th to submit objections to the Planning Inspector.
Cllr Bob Penrose said the objections to the new total of homes would be similar to the previous objections – but it would be necessary to re-submit them again in the light of the new higher figure. Cllr Mahoney urged local residents to put their objections into their own words and not follow a template or the text of previous submissions.
One objector who had signed a letter with 70 signatures objecting to the previous scheme – asked whether the letter was just “regarded as one” (objection). Cllr Penrose said that was indeed the case it would only be regarded as one.
Cllr Mahoney said that objectors should not all put in objections citing the same issue. The more objections there were, the better – but they should be about a variety of issues.
A new primary school is supposed to be built by whatever developers take on the build of the huge new part of the Upper Cosmeston housing estate. However last night members of the audience questioned whether such a primary school would ever actually be built.
Cllr Bob Penrose revealed that in the case of developments at Wenvoe the developers simply paid a so-called “Section 106” financial contribution for education services and children living there were “bussed” to the nearest existing primary school until such time as the primary school would be built. Residents said that in some other cases promised schools had never actually been built.
It was pointed out that the only primary school in Penarth which is currently undersubscribed is Fairfield – all the rest are jam-packed and have no room to cope with any more kids. Fairfield Primary, however, is the school which is the furthest distance from Upper Cosmeston.
Cllr Penrose said the Welsh Government would not accept any reduction in the housing figures it had allocated to the Vale of Glamorgan [ the issue is how the Vale Council has distributed that allocation] . He said Cardiff had run out of land for housing and didn’t have enough to fulfill the city’s LDP requirements
Cllr Mahoney said the Vale of Glamorgan was already the biggest commuter county in Wales and was “20% over the mean average”. None of the proposed new houses would have workplaces nearby – every single new house would “have workers going towards Cardiff” .
Members of the audience were asked to re-draft and resubmit their original objections and encourage as many other people as possible to do the same so that they were relevant to the figures in the new “Matters Arising” Local Development Plan .
Cllr Mahoney was asked whether there had been any liaison with Penarth Council.
He replied that most of the Penarth councillors were also Vale councillors . “There’s not a peep out of them. There doesn’t seem to be much help from them – they’re mostly Labour councillors in Penarth” .
Cllr Mahoney said that Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines, Deputy Leader of the Vale Council) was “battling against” his point of view. “We [i.e. the four Independents on the Vale Council ] “get no support from anybody” .
It was noted that the land involved already belonged to the Welsh Government and strategies such as extending Cosmeston Country Park to the coast to maintain a “green wedge” [thereby reducing the number of houses] – couldn’t be realised in the timescale available before the Planning Inquiry.
On how oral evidence should be presented to the Inquiry, it was suggested it might be more effective for residents to obtain the services of a single professional representative to speak behalf of residents rather than have several oral contributions.
The forthcoming formal examination of the Vale of Glamorgan’s Local Development Plan (LDP) is to be carried out by Planning Inspector, Richard Jenkins – who is charged with determining whether or not the plan is “sound”. The Inspector is bound by law to base his judgement on “the evidence available, the representations made and the particular circumstances of the LDP and the area”.
The Inspector’s report will then detail the changes the Vale Council will have to make to the Local Development Plan . His decision will be binding on the council.
The 6 week consultation period on the so-called “Matters Arising Changes” or “MACS” will close on Friday 28 October 2016.