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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Llan could become "last town in Wales to be ruined by a supermarket"

Warning from anti-Sainsbury's campaigner

to government official

Unless the Welsh Government has a re-think about calling-in plans for a new Sainsbury’s, Llangollen will become known as the “last town in Wales to be ruined by a supermarket”.
That is the warning from anti-supermarket campaigner Martin Crumpton in a letter to John Saunders, the government official who last week outlined the reasons why the controversial application for the site of Dobson & Crowther printworks in Berwyn Street – approved by Denbighshire planning committee last Wednesday - would not be held up while it was reviewed by Cardiff.
In a nine-page letter, Mr Saunders, of the decisions branch of the government’s planning division, told Mr Crumpton that none of the agencies asked for their views on the application had raised any objections to it.
These included the government’s own transport experts, historic buildings body Cadw and the Countryside Commission.
Consequently, Mr Saunders said in his letter he saw no reason to call-in the application, which the developers claim will create 109 full-time equivalent jobs.
But now Mr Crumpton has sent a letter back to Mr Saunders, which we bring you here, unedited:
“Dear Mr Saunders, there are seven criteria for considering a call-in request.
- in conflict with national planning policies;
- raises issues which would have wide effects beyond their immediate locality;
- gives rise to controversy beyond the immediate locality;
- affects sites of scientific, nature conservation or historic interest;
- raises issues of national security; or
- raises novel planning issues.
In your letter, which I received on Saturday, you gave your explanation for refusing a call-in in clinical detail. You have dismissed the claim that the issue goes beyond local interest, and though I certainly dispute this and have provided evidence to the contrary, most especially regarding controversy, it was a matter for your judgment.
Similarly, you dismissed my claims of negative impact on the scientific, nature conservation and historic interest of the area, but I can see the statutory consultees have not supported my views.
You have not commented upon my assertion that the effect on tourism will be widespread and damaging. Perhaps there are no statutory consultees for this.
You may also recall that, in the last category of novel planning issues, I even raised the issue of secondary or indirect discrimination on those elderly, disabled and with no means of private transport who would be disenfranchised if the proposed Sainsbury’s has the predictable effect of driving their nearest store, the Co-op, out of business. Are there no statutory consultees for these vulnerable groups? Again, you made no comments regarding this criteria.
However, most importantly, nowhere in your letter – which I’ve re-read several times – have you addressed the issue of conflict with national policies, for which I have provided incontrovertible evidence (and I do so again as an attachment).
Perhaps you would be kind enough to explain why breaches of national policy were not considered, and perhaps you might agree that they should have been, and so reconsider your decision as a matter of urgency. If you agree to give this your consideration, I would ask you to contact Denbighshire County Council and prevent them issuing Decision Notices until your deliberations are complete.
I would wish to add that, had the LDP in Denbighshire not been delayed from 2011 until 2013, it would have – and will – incorporate the national policy restriction of limiting edge-of-town new stores to 500m2, instead of the 1858m2 planned.
It is no fault of the residents that the new LDP has been so disastrously delayed. It is a loophole exploited by the developer that Denbighshire continues to follow an out-dated and expired UDP.
Consequently, unless you reconsider, Llangollen will earn the epithet of being The Last Town In Wales To Be Ruined By A Supermarket. I’m sure you would not wish that.”

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