New commercial development given green-light despite flooding and tree loss concerns

PLANS for a new builders’ merchant, car showroom, two drive-throughs and several industrial units have been approved, despite concerns about flooding, the loss of trees, and the impact on a site of nature conservation.

Applicant Days Property Holdings Ltd already has planning permission for a commercial development at the Swansea Enterprise Park site, Llansamlet. The company’s new application differed by including a builders’ merchant and a new layout.

The four-hectare site, by the River Tawe and south of the A48, opposite Asda, lies within a type of flood zone which has flood defences. Around two hectares are within a site of importance of nature conservation (SINC).

Swansea Council’s planning committee was told that the application technically breached flood policy in terms of a one-in-a-thousand chance flood event, but that flood risk would not be increased elsewhere, and that environment regulator Natural Resources Wales (NRW) had not objected.

But David Daycock – a representative of scrapyard and baling plant owner Richard Williams, who operates next to the site – said his client regularly experienced flooding and that it had got worse since trees were cut down on the land.

“He has complained on numerous occasions, but to no avail,” said Mr Daycock.
He said Mr Williams also had concerns about the removal of Japanese knotweed and the apparent presence of unidentified sewers and drains.

Mr Daycock urged the committee to err on the side of caution and not approve the application. “It’s an unacceptable flood risk, and that’s the bottom line from Mr Williams’s point of view,” he said.

A planning agent on behalf of Day’s Property Holdings said the vacant land in question detracted from the wider enterprise park, that the scheme would create 120 jobs and was now tailored to occupants’ wishes, and that no statutory consultees had objected.

Cllr Mary Jones noted that the council’s own tree officer said some of the removed trees would need to be replaced while also saying this was unlikely to be successful in the wooded area that remained. “Where are the trees going to go?” she said.

She also questioned the impact of builders’ merchant on a designated Tawe riverside quiet area close by.

Cllr Peter Black asked if the likely introduction of a new flood policy in Wales materially altered the planning consent for Day’s’ previous application, while Cllr Richard Lewis said he felt the development would be good for Swansea and should be approved.

A planning officer said the land was not subject to any tree preservation orders, but that a separate licence might be required from NRW depending on how much timber was felled. The officer said the applicant intended to retain the remaining woodland area, which bordered the Tawe, which may in turn give the council planning control of the trees. He added that replacement trees could be planted in other areas of the site, and might yet be suitable for the retained wooded area.

Councillors were told the proposed new flood policy in Wales, which is due to come into effect in June – although a further round of consultation is under way – was not relevant at this stage.

The planning report before the committee recommended approval of the scheme, subject to conditions, and councillors voted unanimously in favour of it. The report did, however, set out concerns from the council’s ecologist, who objected on the grounds that not enough mitigation measures were being provided to make up for the loss of SINC habitat. Planning officers said the loss would be acceptable because there would be a landscaping scheme, some retained woodland, and that the habitat loss was comparable to that covered by the previous planning consent.

Access to the development will be off the A48 on a “left turn in, left turn out” basis, with rear service access via Dyffryn Close to the south. There will also be a footpath from St Davids Road.

According to Land Registry records, the land was transferred from the council to Day’s Motor Group Ltd in April 2017 and was valued in July 2019 at £2 million.

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