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Monday, July 20, 2015

Statement from KLS on recent developments

It should be self-evident that agreeing to a developer’s plans to construct a lighthouse would rightly have people incensed if the developers built a well-head for fracking instead.
The public expects to have exactly what it’s agreed to, no more and no less – we won’t accept an abattoir when we were promised a health centre. The public is in no mood to sign blank cheques or give carte blanche to a developer who refuses to specify what the development is for.
Now Sainsbury’s have pulled out of building a giant, town-killing supermarket on the edge of Llangollen, we’re expected to accept something else in its place but the people behind the negotiations, including our elected representatives, won’t tell us what, except to intimate that it’ll bring in jobs of some kind and on that basis, they’ll support it.

For the residents, it’s a classic pig in a poke and they have the legal right to buy it using our own money whether we like it or not. It is wholly improper for voters and taxpayers to be treated as if they all had diminished responsibility and need legal guardians instead of elected representatives.

If something else is now required to be developed then there must be an entirely new planning application submitted.
Due to the lack of information being distributed to the residents of Llangollen, I have written to Denbighshire Local Planning Authority asking them to void and annul the original planning application for the 32,000sqft supermarket development.
It would be patently absurd to assume that detailed plans for a supermarket could be adapted to build a marina, outdoor leisure centre or anything else.

As usual, confusion reigns supreme here in Llangollen. At the moment, Llangollen is being fed crumbs and hints of unspecified “good things to come”, of unknown ‘interests’ being expressed i n the newly-built shell but with no indication of what type of businesses have their eyes on it. Consequently we don’t know if access designed for a giant supermarket will be suitable for one or more new clients, if hours of use will change, if waste collection will increase or even if present foul water drainage will cope. We have no projections for traffic flow and capacity and all this must be re-examined by Highways.

Also needing to be re-examined is the changed situation over Planning Policy Wales version 4 which can no longer be disregarded due to the delay in adopting the LDP. Do we even know what will replace the gigantic sign which was originally intended to read ‘Sainsbury’s’ or how the original agreement with the Town Council to use car parking spaces might be affected?
Will the small cafeteria on the play park now be protected and will the reduction of trees now be obviated if the requirement for sight lines to attract passing trade is no longer a priority as it usually is in retail?

If not, can we revisit the impact on the AONB, one of the most contentious aspects of the development?

We don’t know if there are legal implications regarding the condition on Cilmedw and Sainsbury’s opening for trade but KLS would not wish to impede the new company operating the Cilmedw business. However, the status of the link between to two developments should be clarified to avoid possible future complications.

Can there possibly be any doubt that the whole thing needs to be thought-out properly? Can there be any doubt that without input from the community another dismal failure is virtually guaranteed? Can there possibly be a valid reason why our elected representative baulk at any involvement by their constituents when yet again we’ve proved our capability to shape our town’s future and avoid the pitfalls nobody else saw coming?

In a nutshell, the more information we’re can provided with, the greater likelihood we can avoid the bitter divisiveness Llangollen suffered the first time around.

Please be reassured KLS’s motives remain unchanged – to protect the character and viability of independent small traders, to protect our local economy from predation by national multiples, but above all to encourage sustainable, skilled work to support our youngsters and local workforce.

We have to get it right this time. KLS is always willing to participate in consultations and any aspects which may have impact on Llangollen.

It cannot be overemphasised that there’s no short cut to creating a new planning application completely from scratch or else the old, inherent flaws will reappear, and local involvement is the key to success from the very beginning – the original error was in assuming the town could be shaped to suit the project when only the reverse could possibly work.

Martin Crumpton
Chair ╬×Keep Llangollen Special╬×

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