Mewn perthynas cheisiadau y mae gan y Cyngor ddiddordeb ynddynt un ai fel ymgeisydd/asiant neu fel perchennog tir neu eiddo, atgoffir yr Aelodau fod yn rhaid iddynt anwybyddu’r agwedd hon, gan ystyried ceisiadau o’r fath a phenderfynu yn eu cylch ar sail rhinweddau’r ceisiadau cynllunio yn unig. Ni ddylid ystyried swyddogaeth y Cyngor fel perchennog tir, na materion cysylltiedig, wrth benderfynu ynghylch ceisiadau cynllunio o’r fath.

In relation to those applications which are identified as one in which the Council has an interest either as applicant/agent or in terms of land or property ownership, Members are reminded that they must set aside this aspect, and confine their consideration and determination of such applications exclusively to the merits of the planning issues arising. The Council’s land owning function, or other interests in the matter, must not be taken into account when determining such planning applications.

COMMITTEE:

    PLANNING COMMITTEE

DATE:

    29 March 2012

REPORT OF:

    HEAD OF PLANNING

INDEX - AREA SOUTH

Ref

APPLICATIONS RECOMMENDED FOR
APPROVAL

Page Nos.

S/23696

Application for development of land at Crosshands West, comprising: Class A1 Retail Foodstore; Class C3 Residential Development; Class D1 Medical Care Facility; Class C2 Residential Home; Class A3 Workingman's Club; new drainage, services, transport and highways infrastructure, including access to potential school "drop off"/vehicular access, associated engineering operations, strategic landscape and environmental resource areas and public open space including improved playing fields

5 - 45

S/23781

Proposed development of the Crosshands East Strategic Employment Site (SES) access road, comprising a new 7.3m single carriageway road, verge, footpath/cycleway, new Crosshands Business Park four arm roundabout junction, gated livestock access, new ghost island priority junction to the proposed SES, new simple priority junction on to Black Lion Road, new simple priority junction on to Heol Parc Mawr, ghost island priority junction at Meadows Road, footpaths, lighting, drainage, retention pond, landscaping, retaining walls, site remediation, plus associated engineering operations

46 - 82

W/23782

Proposed development of Industrial Park, including the development of business and industrial units (Use Classes B1 and B8), offices, business incubator units, a hotel, a business central hub, resource centre, energy centre, central green space, parkland, roads, gateway feature, pedestrian and cycling facilities including a green link, landscaping, provision of foul and surface water drainage, attenuation ponds, services, utilities, site remediation, plus associated engineering operations

83 - 118

Applications Recommended For Approval

Application No

S/23696

Application Type

Outline

Proposal &
Location

APPLICATION FOR DEVELOPMENT OF LAND AT CROSSHANDS WEST, COMPRISING: CLASS A1 RETAIL FOODSTORE; CLASS C3 RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT; CLASS D1 MEDICAL CARE FACILITY; CLASS C2 RESIDENTIAL HOME; CLASS A3 WORKINGMAN'S CLUB; NEW DRAINAGE, SERVICES, TRANSPORT AND HIGHWAYS INFRASTRUCTURE, INCLUDING ACCESS TO POTENTIAL SCHOOL "DROP OFF"/VEHICULAR ACCESS, ASSOCIATED ENGINEERING OPERATIONS, STRATEGIC LANDSCAPE AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCE AREAS AND PUBLIC OPEN SPACE INCLUDING IMPROVED PLAYING FIELDS AT LAND AT CROSSHANDS WEST, CROSSHANDS, LLANELLI, CARMARTHENSHIRE, SA14 6RD

Applicant(s)

GEORGE LB LTD

Agent

MR GERAINT JOHN

Case Officer

Gary Glenister

Electoral Ward

Llannon

Date of validation

22/03/2011

CONSULTATIONS

Head of Transport - No observations received to date.

South Wales Trunk Roads Agency (SWTRA) – States that there are some outstanding issues that need to be addressed in respect of the design and impact on the trunk road capacity at the year 2030 therefore has a holding objection to the proposal.

Head of Public Protection – The Public Protection Division has made the following comments in respect of specific issues:-

Llannon Community Council - Whilst accepting the principle of development is set within the UDP, this Council would like to emphasize the following points:

Gorslas Community Council - No observations received to date.

Llandybie Community Council – objects to the proposal for the following reasons:

Local Members (Gorslas and Llannon) - County Councillor P Williams and C Scourfield have not commented to date. County Councillors E Dole and T Davies are members of the Planning Committee and therefore have made no prior comment.

Environment Agency – Has concerns over water quality in the Afon Gwili beyond the Waste Water Treatment Works. There is also concern over flooding and otters on the Afon Gwendraeth.

Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water – Had initial concerns over the capacity of infrastructure however it should be noted that the foul drainage is now being split between Cross Hands and Pontyberem treatment works given the fact that the site straddles two catchments.

Countryside Council for Wales – states that it is generally in agreement with the mitigation strategy put forward in the addendum to the Environmental Statement (August 2011). CCW also confirms that staged payments would be acceptable in line with the phasing of the development across the whole site. However to ensure compliance with the regulations none of the 1.48ha marsh fritillary habitat would be lost and ideally none of the 2.6ha of marshy grassland would be lost until suitable mitigation is in place.

Coal Authority – Has no objection to the proposed development in light of the submitted coal mining report.

Dyfed Archaeology – has no objection as there are no historic constraints on site.

Neighbours/Public - The application has been publicised by the posting of 8 Site Notices and 32 responses have been received as a result raising the following matters:

RELEVANT PLANNING HISTORY

The following previous applications have been received on the application site:

S25657 Part demolition of the existing clubhouse,

S/17822 Cantilevered smoking shelter to front of

S/07923 Shop signs and totem signs (pole mounted)

S/07922 Alterations to existing elevations and car

S/02649 Construction of 2.5m/3m cycle path

D5/16229 Extension and alterations

D5/14187 Fun Fair for a period of six days

D5/13485 (C5/298) Proposed temporary retention of

D5/9133 Sandwich/snack bar in shop unit

D5/8922 Shop signs etc.

D5/8860 Excavation and removal of colliery tip for

D5/8241 Proposed new Kwiksave discount plc

D5/7306 Proposed new discount savings plc

D5/7045 Single storey extension

D5/6801 Certificate of Appropriate Alternative

D5/5935 Permanent supermarket

D5/5486 Market trading

D5/128 Haulage and plant depot

W/05344 Extension to the school gymnasium

D4/25914 Siting of residential development (20-24

D4/21167 Siting of residential development –

D4/19157 Siting of 9 residential units –

D4/15299 Disposal of mineral waste

APPRAISAL

This is an application in which Carmarthenshire County Council has an interest as joint applicant and in terms of land and property ownership.

PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS

Consideration of the development against the requirements of the Town and Country Planning (Shopping Development) (England and Wales) (No.2) Direction 1993 showed that neither individually or cumulatively with other developments in the area, the proposal does not exceed the threshold of 20,000sqm of shopping floor space for notification to the National Assembly for Wales.

In respect of the Shopping Directive (Circular 15/93), Members are advised that that “gross shopping floorspace” of between 2,500 sqm and 20,000 sqm should be referred to the Welsh Government if it exceeds 20,000 sqm when combined with other eligible retail proposal(s). Other eligible proposals must:

Be within 10 miles of any part of the development (it is calculated that Llandeilo, Cross Hands and Ammanford are all situated within 10 miles of one another); and
Be a live application for gross shopping floorspace of not less than 2,500 sqm on the date when an application to which the Direction applies is made: or
Be a permission for gross shopping floorspace of not less than 2,500 sqm permitted in the last five years (for example, the Tesco proposal for 5,787 sqm of floorspace at Ammanford (Ref No. E/18772) would be eligible); or
Be a permission for gross shopping floorspace of not less than 2,500 sqm, substantially completed in the last five years.

In view of the above, it has been calculated that the following schemes would all be eligible in respect of the retail proposal at Cross Hands:

Llandeilo – 4,031 sqm gross (planning application valid on 29 June 2011)
Cross Hands – 8,375 sqm gross (planning application S/23696 valid on 22 March 2011)
Cross Hands – (New Retail Warehousing), 5,474 sqm - Unit 30, Heol Stanllyd, Cross Hands (former Farmers Coop)) Full Planning 24-08-2007
Ammanford (TRJ site) – 4,413sqm gross (planning application E/24378 : valid on 22 February 2011)
Ammanford (Tesco) - 5,787sqm gross (planning permission granted in 2009)
Llanelli (Morrisons) - 7,710 sqm (Approval of Reserved Matters 19-10-2006)
Llanelli (Pemberton Retail Park) - 3,252 sqm (Approval of Reserved Matters 09-02-2007)
Pontarddulais (Tesco) 4,200 sqm Full Planning (City & County of Swansea) 22-06-2009

In consideration of the development against the requirements of the Town and Country Planning (Shopping Development) (England and Wales) (No.2) Direction 1993, it shows that cumulatively with other developments in the area, the proposal does take the total gross shopping floor-space above the threshold of 20,000 sqm (43,242sqm in this instance) hence will require notification to the National Assembly for Wales.

THE SITE

The site is a 23.2ha area of land comprising a disused mineral spoil tip lying between the A48 and villages of Cross Hands and Cefneithin. The site also has an existing Workingman’s Club and unoccupied Kwiksave Supermarket and associated car park forming the southern part of the site. The northern part of the site forms Greenfield land adjacent to Maes yr Yrfa School.

The site is well related to the villages of Cross Hands and Cefneithin. The site has existing access from Carmarthen Road for non motorised vehicles along the old railway alignment. There is existing vehicular access from Llandeilo Road along the Kwiksave access road and the site is well linked to the business park via the public right of way and subway under the roundabout which leads to the Co-operative store. There is a gateway on Heol y Parc to the agricultural land along with access to one of the public rights of way. Various informal accesses are evident such as from the end of Bancyffynnon and from Cross Hands Park. The site is adjacent to the A48 however there are no direct access points or crossings within the site frontage.

The site has variable ground levels with evidence of past mineral tipping forming a manmade and alien topography within its context. Much of the site is previously developed and is naturally regenerating scrub with large areas of open and undulating hard standing and a network of informal footpaths and two public rights of way which appear to be used by walkers, cyclists, motor-crossers and horse riders.

The past uses of the site are such that there is a need for remediation of the contamination present and therefore the regeneration would have benefits to the area in this respect.

The site has a mosaic of habitats and there is ecological interest around the Gwendraeth Fawr River which flows through the site and also brownfield regenerating habitat interspersed with open areas of hard standing. The site has confirmed areas of marshy grassland which is Marsh Fritillary butterfly habitat of international value in addition to the habitats of local value, therefore the scheme needs to be subject to an appropriate assessment to ensure compliance with the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.

The site is designated as a planning development brief site in the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) which identifies sites around the County which are earmarked for local and strategic regeneration purposes.

THE PROPOSAL

The outline application seeks to establish the principle of a mixed use redevelopment of the former coal tip. The application is in outline however the means of strategic access and the siting of the supermarket are considered with all other matters reserved. The mix of uses proposed is as follows:

Sainsbury’s have confirmed their intention (subject to planning permission) to develop a store at both Llandeilo and Cross Hands so it’s not an either/or scenario.

The application is accompanied by a suite of supporting documents as follows:

Planning Support Statement
Retail Impact Assessment
Design and Access Statement
Transport Assessment
Desk Study Report (Contamination)
Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment
Ecological Impact Assessment
Landscape and Visual Assessment
Water Quality and Drainage Assessment
Flood risk Assessment
Screening Habitats Regulations Assessment
Japanese Knotweed Briefing Paper
Noise and Vibration Report
Air Quality Report

After screening the application it was considered that an Environmental Impact Assessment was necessary and the Environmental Statement along with an addendum thereto is summarised in the relevant section below.

The site is proposed to come forward in a phased manner as follows:

Phase 1 – Reconfiguration of the Workingman’s Clubhouse.
Phase 2 – Vehicular access and Retail Foodstore.
Phase 3 – Medical Centre and Residential Care Home.
Phase 4 – Residential Areas

Access into the site is being considered as part of this application. The main access is proposed from Llandeilo Road via a signalised junction at the location of the existing Kwiksave access road. The existing road is proposed to be widened with a left turn filter onto Llandeilo Road. The signalised junction is proposed to be a four way staggered cross roads including Meadows Road as part of the design geometry. Access is also proposed onto Carmarthen Road and Heol y Parc via new priority junctions. In accordance with discussions with SWTRA an access and road layout has been proposed from Llandeilo Road including a right turn lane from the A48 roundabout to the road junction which would allow through traffic to pass unimpeded. It should be noted that this means of access is being considered as part of this application and a detailed planning application for the Workingman’s Club and the first part of the access road is being considered separately under pending application number S/25657.

PLANNING POLICY

The development plan for the purposes of Section 38 of the Planning and Compensation Act (2004) is the Carmarthenshire UDP, adopted on 19 July 2006.

Technical Advice Note (Wales) 4, Retailing and Town Centres - November 1996 requires all applications for retail developments over 2,500 square metres gross floor space should be supported by an impact assessment providing evidence of:


In the context of the current development control policy framework, the site lies outside the settlement development limits of Cross Hands as defined in the Carmarthenshire Unitary Development Plan (UDP) adopted 2006 however it is allocated as a development brief site reference PDB29.

Located within the Ammanford/Cross Hands Growth Area the site is a major component in the development of one of the 3 Growth Areas in the County and the basis of the UDP Sustainable Strategic Settlement framework

The emerging LDP acknowledges the strategic importance of the site within the Ammanford Cross Hands Growth Area and allocates the site (GA3/MU1) as follows “The site offers the potential for a range of uses with proposals in place for retail, health care (resource centre), residential (220 units), amenity/recreation and the provision roads linking through the site to adjacent communities. The site is currently the subject of a pending planning application for a mixed use proposal.” This however has no weight prior to the LDP being publically examined and adopted.

Policy GDC2 of the UDP seeks to ensure that all new forms of development should enhance rather than detract from the existing environment making a positive contribution. Particular regard is given to a number of criteria including, the scale, form, materials, siting and layout in relation to the character and amenity of the surrounding environment.

Policy GDC11 seeks a satisfactory means of access, parking and where necessary turning facilities, GDC12 states that proposals which generate an unacceptable level of traffic on the surrounding road network which would reduce highway safety on the network or reduce the amenity of residents along the route will be refused. This policy is reinforced by Policy T3 which seeks to ensure that the local road network is sufficient to serve the development and that all development proposals shall be served by appropriate access provision.

Policy GDC33 of the UDP seeks to negotiate contributions from developers in larger scale developments to fund community and education facilities, infrastructure projects and affordable housing within the local area which should be fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development. This policy is reinforced by Policies C4 and REC8 which relate to the provision of community facilities and open space provision within appropriate housing developments. Similarly, in terms of affordable housing provision, Policy H3 requires that where there is a demonstrable lack of affordable housing to meet proven local needs the Authority will seek the inclusion of a reasonable element of such housing within new schemes.

Policy GDC34 states that the development of previously developed sites would be preferred over Greenfield alternatives.

Policy E16 identifies the site with the list of local regeneration sites. Reference is made to Appendix 3 which defines Cross Hands West as follows.

PDB 29 – West Tip, Cross Hands

West Tip occupies an area of 17 hectares adjacent to the A48 and adjoins the settlements of Cross Hands and Cefneithin. It comprises an area of predominately unimproved grassland with pockets of hedgerows, shrubs and trees, and an elevated mineral spoil tip that has started to revegetate. The site is home to various rare species of plant. Those parts of the site which may be of ecological interest and worthy of protection will be assessed during the preparation of the Brief. The redevelopment and/or restoration of the site presents the opportunity of maximising a number of social, economic and amenity benefits. It is proposed that the site be developed to accommodate a mix of developments consisting of all or some of the following uses:- Employment, Residential and Recreation/Amenity.

Policy E17 states that planning development briefs will be prepared for the local and strategic development sites.

Policy R8 relates that the provision of large scale food stores in Carmarthen, Llanelli and Ammanford however Cross Hands is not listed; while Policy R7 related to convenience stores in secondary settlements of which Cross Hands is not one.

Policy R10 addresses development on retail parks and while the application site is not located within the Cross Hands Business park one of the objectors is presently operating from the defined retail park. This policy lists criteria against which new proposals will be considered, and offers no protection to existing businesses.

Policy UT1 seeks to ensure that new development is adequately served by infrastructure.

Policy UT14 of the UDP states that the Council to opposes the culverting of watercourses due to the adverse ecological, flood defence and other effects that are likely to arise.

A number of nature and landscape conservation policies are also relevant and these include Policy EN1, EN5, EN6, EN8 and EN9.

Policy EN1 states that permission for development proposals which are likely to adversely affect the integrity of European Sites (e.g. Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) will not be permitted unless the international importance of the site is clearly outweighed by the reasons for the development or land use change and there is no alternative solution to the proposal.

Policy EN5 states that it is the Policy of the Council that development will not be permitted where it would cause demonstrable harm to species or their habitats protected by legislation and where appropriate positive mitigation measures cannot be provided.

Policy EN6 states that it is the policy of the Council, in areas of new development or redevelopment, to encourage the retention of existing and the creation of new habitats of wildlife importance and measures to ensure their proper management. Particular importance will be attached to those habitats which are well related to habitat networks, having particular regard to their importance for migration, dispersal and genetic exchange.

Policy EN8 states that it is the Policy of the Council that development which would cause harm to the integrity or continuity of landscape features which are of major importance for wild fauna or flora, will only be permitted if it can be demonstrated that the reasons for the development clearly outweigh the need to retain the features and that mitigating measures can be provided for, which are within the control of the developer, which would reinstate the integrity or continuity of the feature.

Finally Policy EN9 states that it is the Council’s policy that development that is likely to cause harm to a habitat or species that is recognized either by the UK Biodiversity Action plan or the Carmarthenshire Local Biodiversity Action Plan, will not be permitted unless the need to safeguard the nature conservation value of the site or feature is clearly outweighed by the reasons for the development or land use change.

National policy contained in the Planning Policy Wales (PPW) Edition 4 – February 2011 paragraph 9.3.1 states that “New housing developments should be well integrated with and connected to the existing pattern of settlements.”

Paragraph 9.3.3 states that “Insensitive infilling, or the cumulative effects of development or redevelopment, including conversion and adaptation, should not be allowed to damage an area’s character or amenity. This includes any such impact on neighbouring dwellings, such as serious loss of privacy or overshadowing.”

In respect of retailing, paragraph 10.1.2 states “Wherever possible this provision should be located in proximity to other commercial businesses, facilities for leisure, community facilities and employment. Town, district, local and village centres are the best locations for such provision at an appropriate scale. Such co-location of retail and other services in existing centres, with enhancement of access by walking, cycling and public transport, to provide the opportunity to use means of transport other than the car, will provide the greatest benefit to communities. This complementary mix of uses should also sustain and enhance the vitality, attractiveness and viability of those centres as well as contributing to a reduction of travel demand.”

In respect of the location of new sites, Paragraph 10.2.11 states “Where a need is identified for such new development, local planning authorities should adopt a sequential approach to the selection of sites. The sequential approach should also be used when allocating sites for the other uses best located in existing centres (see 10.2.9). Adopting a sequential approach means that first preference should be for town centre locations, where suitable sites or buildings suitable for conversion are available. If they are not available, then consideration should be given to amending the boundaries of existing centres so that appropriate edge of centre sites are included, as referred to in paragraph 10.2.1. Where this is not practical, then district and local centres might be considered and, only then, out-of-centre sites in locations that are accessible by a choice of means of transport. When proposing a development plan allocation in an edge of centre or out-of-centre location for uses best located in an existing centre, local planning authorities must have regard to need and to the sequential test and must be able to justify the proposal fully.“

PPW also allows for other mixed use sites to be identified. Paragraph 10.2.12 states “Local planning authorities should take a positive approach, in partnership with the private sector, in identifying additional sites which accord with this approach. In allocating sites for different types of retail developments they should take account of such factors as floorspace, quality, convenience, attractiveness and traffic. They should not however prescribe rigid floorspace limits, whether for town centres or other development, that would unreasonably inhibit the retail industry from responding to changing demand and opportunity. As proposals for development may come forward after the development plan has been adopted, and may be brought forward irrespective of whether the plan provides allocations, plans should also include a criteria-based policy in line with this guidance against which such proposals can be judged.”

When considering planning applications paragraph 10.3.3 states “Where need is a consideration, precedence should be accorded to establishing quantitative need. It will be for the decision-maker to determine and justify the weight to be given to any qualitative assessment, as outlined in paragraph 10.2.10. Regeneration and additional employment benefits are not considered qualitative need factors in retail policy terms, though they may be material considerations in making a decision on a planning application.”

Paragraph 10.3.6 states “For major new retail proposals, local planning authorities should consider not only the incremental effects of that proposal but also the likely cumulative effects of recently completed developments, together with outstanding planning permissions and development plan commitments, in the catchment areas of those centres. A retail application that is a departure from the development plan and meets the criteria set out in paragraphs 3.12.2 and 3.12.3, should be referred by the local planning authority to Welsh Ministers, so they can decide whether to call in the application for their own determination.”

The longer terms impact is addressed in paragraph 10.3.11 “Edge of centre or out-of-centre retail developments may seek over time to change the range of goods they sell or the nature of the sales area, for example by subdivision to a mix of smaller units, or to a single ‘department’ store. Sites might come up for redevelopment or be extended, or additional floorspace (possibly in the form of mezzanine floors) might be proposed. Local planning authorities should anticipate such future changes to retail developments (which are likely to impact upon the vitality, attractiveness or viability of a town centre) by placing conditions on the initial permission and on any subsequent variation allowed. Conditions might be appropriate to prevent the development from being subdivided into a large number of smaller shops, to limit the range of goods sold or to restrict the amount of floorspace. Applications to remove or vary such conditions should be considered in accordance with this guidance.”

Good design is encouraged at all levels and national policy contained in Planning Policy Wales Edition 4 – February 2011 paragraph 4.10.2 states that “Good design can protect and enhance environmental quality, consider the impact of climate change on generations to come, help to attract business and investment, promote social inclusion and improve quality of life. Meeting the objectives of good design should be the aim of all those involved in the development process and applied to all development proposals, at all scales, from the construction or alteration of individual buildings to larger development proposals.”

Paragraph 2.2 of Technical Advice Note 12 Design (2009) states:

2.2 The Assembly Government is strongly committed to the delivery of good design in the built and natural environment which is fit for purpose and delivers environmental sustainability, economic development, and social inclusion at every scale throughout Wales – from householder extensions to new mixed use communities.

Paragraph 2.6 of Technical Advice Note 12 Design (2009) states:

2.6 Design which is inappropriate in its context, or which fails to grasp opportunities to enhance the character, quality and function of an area, should not be accepted, as these have detrimental effects on existing communities.

THIRD PARTY REPRESENTATIONS

Concern has been expressed over the location of a new clubhouse as originally proposed, with fears over loss of privacy, noise and security. As a result of the concerns raised, the relocation of the club was reassessed and the application has been revised to include alterations to the existing building rather than its relocation. It is therefore considered that all the concerns have been addressed through negotiation and submission of amended plans.

Linked to the above, concern has been expressed to the link between the site and Bancyffynon, with fear that this link would encourage people from the relocated club to walk along the residential street late at night and cause noise and disturbance. It should however be noted that there are currently informal pedestrian linkages present and the plans have been changed so the Club is no longer proposed to be relocated to this location. The concerns of the objectors have therefore been addressed through negotiation and submission of amended plans.

Traffic generation from the site is likely to be significant, however the impacts have been the subject of detailed discussions between the applicant’s consultants and SWTRA in respect of the impact on the wider transport network, in particular the trunk road and the capacity of the junctions serving the site. To ensure a consistent and comprehensive approach, this has been assessed in light of the Strategic Employment Site and its access road which would link Black Lion Road to the A48. The Transport Assessment (TA) concludes that, subject to the reconfiguration of the existing principle junction onto Llandeilo Road, together with the installation of traffic controls as well as the new access links onto Carmarthen Road and Heol y Parc the road network is able to accommodate the additional traffic likely to be generated without resulting in the flow of traffic on the trunk road being impeded. The traffic generated on the wider road network has been assessed by one of the County’s approved consultants and this is considered to be acceptable given the three access points and the likely dispersal of traffic.

There are also site specific concerns over the access road as follows.

The junction at Carmarthen Road is close to school and health centre, however it should be noted that this stretch of road has been subject to traffic calming recently so vehicle speeds have been greatly reduced. It should be noted that this is the former trunk road, so the capacity of the road to accommodate extra traffic is therefore considered to be adequate.

It should be further noted that Heol y Parc has also been traffic calmed recently so the additional traffic is not considered to be detrimental to safety. The movement of the bus terminus would also shift some of the peak school traffic away from Heol y Parc onto the proposed new link road thus relieving pressure.

There is concern over the alignment of the access road and proximity to Bancyffynnon. It is acknowledged that the road would have an impact on Poplar Close and Bancyffynnon in terms of noise and disturbance, therefore a condition is recommended to ensure that high density acoustic fencing is installed along the access road at the rear of the verge prior to any other work or development taking place on site. This has been agreed through negotiation and an appropriate condition is recommended below.

Ground levels across the site will need to be amended to secure appropriate gradients for the access road and relatively level and consistent development plateaus. The finished levels will need to be established through subsequent applications for the engineering works so the height of buildings compared to the surrounding development is not currently known. There will be further consultation when these details have been submitted for approval and any site specific issues will be addressed at that time.

No specific consultation with the equestrian community has taken place, however the application has been advertised with both press and site notices. Concerns of the local horse riders have been raised through the consultation process and have been considered. There is no bridal way on the site at present, so there is no obligation to retain equestrian access. The current usage is informal and unauthorised, therefore the scheme is not proposed to make specific provision. The site is however permeable, and riders can use the access road the same as other road users with greater access through the site between Cross Hands and Cefneithin.

Similarly, the sustrans route stops at Carmarthen Road and the cycle access is currently on an informal basis along the old railway alignment which forms public footpath 33/24. The site being permeable would allow cycle access along the road way and this is proposed to be formalised in terms of signage and road markings. This however is a detailed matter that will be addressed through highways considerations of the final details.

Planning permission does not allow for the obstruction or diversion of the public footpath, therefore any works will need to be subject to a diversion order under highways legislation so that the footpath is diverted onto the pavements within the proposed road layout. A second footpath 31/14 is affected by the improvements to Maes yr Yrfa school playing fields which will again need to be diverted under separate legislation along the edge of the new school boundary or along the access road.

The scheme does not provide for crossing the A48 for non motorised transport as there is none currently present. A crossing would serve no purpose as the land to the north is waste ground presently and the cost of a link would be prohibitive. It should however be noted that there is a pedestrian subway under the roundabout on the A48 and the access road joins Heol y Parc close to the bridge under the A48 which has pavements both sides, so having a link road between Llandeilo Road and Heol y Parc would have benefits in providing a convenient and formal link between the two crossing points.

The impact on a pond within third party land can not be determined at this point as the finished ground levels have not been established. Once the new contours have been established they will need to be subject to a further permission with the necessary consultation period so the objector will be able to see whether there is likely to be an impact.

The site is not currently public open space as it is primarily a previously developed mineral site. It has, in part, regenerated with a covering of relatively young scrub and trees between the areas of hardstanding, and the northern part of the site is marshy grassland. Public access, (apart from the public rights of way), is informal and unauthorised therefore it could be fenced at any point. The site is predominately previously developed and is not therefore considered to be a totally Greenfield site as suggested by the third party. The proposal includes an extension to the Maes yr Yrfa playing field and a swathe of open space through the middle to accommodate connectivity for the Marsh Fritillary butterflies, so overall, for a mixed use commercial / residential site, it will have a green and spacious character.

Loss of habitat has been addressed through the submission of a detailed Environmental Statement. This is addressed elsewhere in this report under its own heading.

Convergence between Cross Hands and Cefneithin and a loss of identity is not considered likely as the site is split into two developable areas with the river and open space between. The housing and school improvements are better related to Cefneithin with the retail store and health centre related to Cross Hands. The development of this area between the settlements has been earmarked for some time as a local regeneration / development brief site, so has been accepted in principle.

There is concern over the impact of the development on local schools. It should be noted however that the proposal includes the formation of a new bus terminus for Maes yr Yrfa and the ground level changes are set to enhance the schools playing fields. This is considered to have an overall beneficial impact on education in the locality although of no direct benefit to the local primary schools. Given the infrastructure improvements to education overall it is considered that the benefit outweighs that which would be achieved though the standard Section 106 formulae. Therefore no further contributions are sought through the application.

There is concern that the proposed retail element would have an adverse impact on retailers locally, with the Co-operative particularly vulnerable given the proposed size of the retail store. The retail impact of the scheme has been carefully considered both on the immediate locality and at a strategic county level given the other two major retail applications than have been submitted and are being considered here today. The Retail Impact Assessments have been scrutinised by the consultants instructed to inform the county wide assessment in the Local Development Plan to provide independent advice and provide consistency. It is acknowledged that the Co-operative store would be affected to a certain degree by the proposal, however it the level of impact has not been defined. The application will need to be considered on balance in conjunction with the other major retail proposals currently pending. This is addressed elsewhere in this report under its own heading.

In terms of the sequential test, Cross Hands does not have a defined town centre however it is considered that the proposed location is well related to the shops and services in Llandeilo Road and would provide parking just off the main street in a location that would encourage linked trips. The business park is not a defined town centre so therefore the location outside the retail boundary is not material.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT

Based on issues that were apparent in the locality and the past use of the site, it was considered that an Environmental Impact Assessment was necessary in order to properly assess the environmental implications of the proposal. This was tightly scoped as follows:

These topic areas are set out below:

Ecology

The site has a mosaic of habitats given the fact that it has both regenerating previously developed areas and Greenfield areas. These habitats support a variety of species and together make up the ecological features of the site. There is also a considerable amount of Japanese Knotweed (2.5ha) which is an invasive species and would need to be eradicated if the rest of the mosaic was to be preserved.

Detailed surveys were undertaken by licensed ecologists as follows:–

Terrestrial Habitats, Hedgerows, Amphibians, Aquatic Invertebrates, Badger, Bats, Birds, Dormouse, Otter, Reptiles, Terrestrial Vertebrates & Water vole.

The value of an ecological receptor in terms of its geographical context was determined by professional judgement, through reference to the following:

The site has therefore been assessed in light of the above with the level and importance of impact identified. The site is primarily of local value in terms of the woodland, brownfield habitats, bats, otter, birds and aquatic invertebrates and reptiles, however the marshy grassland is of County level importance. Parts of the site have also been identified as a suitable breeding habitat for Marsh Fritillary butterflies which are the defining feature of the Caeau Mynydd Mawr Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The SAC is a European designation, therefore in respect of the Marsh Fritillaries, the site has International significance.

The construction of the proposed development has the potential to result in the direct loss of species through land take and water pollution. The species most at risk are reptiles and bats which are protected under legislation, so appropriate mitigation is necessary for the construction phase however these are mobile species and are likely to return once the site is re-formed and habitat recreated.

Mitigation Strategy

The site is of Local and County importance in and of itself given the mosaic of different habitats present and has also been identified as of International importance to Marsh Fritillary Butterflies in respect of breeding and connectivity. Given the on site habitat and the wider issue in relation to the SAC as highlighted above, the application proposes a mixture of on and off site mitigation to address the ecological issues.

On Site Mitigation

The master plan proposes to retain a swathe of green space running through the site along the Gwendraeth Fawr river corridor in order to mitigate for the loss of habitat and also to provide a connectivity route for the Marsh Fritillary. The proposals set out plans for a mix of habitat creation as follows:

Off Site Mitigation

The habitat of the Marsh Fritillary is not easily re-created on site as it depends of wet marshy grassland with the right mix of species. Given the fact that the site will need to be re-contoured to form development plateaus it would be difficult to create a hydrological regime that would sustain the species necessary to support a breeding colony. The application therefore proposes off site mitigation in the form of a contribution towards the wider Marsh Fritillary butterfly issue which is prevalent in the Cross Hands area.

The Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA) prepared for the LDP opines that provided mitigation is implemented, the LDP would be in accordance with the Habitat Regulations. The relevant section from the (HRA) provides four options.

It should however be noted that the Welsh Government has questioned the robustness of the HRA and seeks the formation of Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) at an early stage. This will be examined alongside the LDP to test the deliverability of mitigation as part of the public examination process in order to assess whether the LDP strategy above is in accordance with the Habitat Regulations.

A figure of 300,000 is considered necessary to provide suitable mitigation within the framework of the above, which will be used for habitat creation and enhancement and aid the management of the SAC and wider meta-population area. This has been calculated on the basis of 200,000 from the housing areas (16 acres is likely to deliver approximately 200 houses) and 100,000 from the proposed supermarket. Whilst appeal precedent allows a discount for affordable dwellings, this is off set by the need for mitigation for the access road and residential care home. In the spirit of the appeal decision, the affordable housing and doctors surgery is not included. This wider mitigation is being co-ordinated through the preparation of Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) on the matter as referenced above which will sit alongside the Local Development Plan. It has been agreed in principle that a comprehensive mitigation strategy for the meta-population area along with resources to implement it, would be sufficiently robust to comply with the European Habitats Directive under which an ‘Appropriate Assessment’ needs to confirm that development will not adversely affect the ecological feature of European Importance.

The commuted sum is proposed to go towards specific mitigation projects which are in the process of being identified through the formation of SPG. The SPG is to be formally adopted and will be used to identify suitable mitigation for future schemes to the approval of CCW. This will ensure an appropriate level of mitigation is provided for each scheme and apply a consistent approach to development.

CCW have also identified specifically that a commuted sum will be spent on a combination of the following:

including mechanical intervention where required Sward translocation, individual plant translocation Seed collection Growing of wild flower plants and planting on specific sites Developing novel agri-environment packages tailored to a specific species Community engagement and education Partnership building and marketing Monitoring and reporting Ensuring full compliance with Eu Habitats Directive

This application is being determined in advance of the adoption of SPG however the contributions will set the standard for future development. This is the approach used elsewhere on other issues to ensure appropriate mitigation. CCW will have approved a list of suitable schemes to be funded by developers via the respective legal agreements and therefore have control over the level and nature of mitigation implemented.

Contamination

The site is predominately a former colliery site with associated mineral railway line. There are therefore several potential contamination sources. The applicants submitted a desk top study which identified potential contaminants and a meeting with the relevant pubic protection officers was held to ascertain whether there was any need for further work at this stage. The conclusion of the study confirms that with suitable mitigation and remediation as conditioned below, the magnitude of any significance is negligible.

RETAIL IMPACT ASSESSMENT

There are objections to the retail element of this application from the Co-operative and from Llandybie Community Council.

The UDP defines Cross Hands as a settlement within the Ammanford/Cross Hands Growth Area where it is envisaged that the two settlements along with the surrounding villages would form a dispersed dual-core location for growth. Policy R7 omits Cross Hands from the main policy text, however it should be seen within the context of the aforementioned and this is reflected in the supporting text.

The application has been accompanied by a Retail Impact Assessment (RIA). This has been subject to independent critique along with the RIA for the other two supermarket applications being considered today i.e. an individual and cumulative assessment has been undertaken of both capacity and impact. The independent critique seeks to look at the three applications on a like for like basis, therefore the figures in each RIA accompanying each application have been adjusted so that they have been assessed using comparable figures.

The relevant conclusions of the applicant’s RIA and the independent critique undertaken by the Council’s appointed retail advisors are set out below. This has been set out under the headings of Location, Need and Impact.

Location

The proposed supermarket is not within a defined town centre as defined in the UDP, therefore the site is out of centre in retail policy terms. However, there are no suitable, viable and available sequentially preferable sites, and the site is well related to the main retail area of Cross Hands therefore the location is considered acceptable in planning policy terms.

The site is to the rear of Llandeilo Road so is well related to other shops and services within the village and would therefore benefit from linked trips. There is no defined town centre as such, however Cross Hands forms part of the Ammanford / Cross Hands Growth Area, and Cross Hands is considered to be a sustainable location for growth given its location on a major transport corridor and potential for sustainable transport. Sequentially, whilst not within a defined town centre, the site is considered to be on the edge of the village centre. Precedent has been set for retail at this location to the rear of Llandeilo Road as the site includes an existing Kwiksave store. The County wide “Carmarthenshire Retail Study” (2009) states that “The former Kwiksave site provides an opportunity for new occupants or redevelopment”. The site offers the potential for linked trips, with visitors being able to park at the supermarket and be within easy walking distance of the local village facilities. The supermarket would also be between the village centre and the proposed health centre further integrating the site with the local community. Access to the site from Carmarthen Road would allow good pedestrian and vehicular access from the housing allocations off Carmarthen Road and the Gwendraeth villages. Access to Heol y Parc would provide good pedestrian and vehicular access from Cefneithin and Gorslas. The location is therefore considered to be an appropriate place for the proposed development.

Need

The County wide retail study prepared by NLP for the Local Development Plan identifies a need for additional retail at Cross Hands. The site also has a vacant Kwiksave present so the principle of a degree of retail as part of the overall mixed use scheme is considered to be acceptable.

In terms of capacity to support an individual stand alone store at Cross Hands, the critique of the RIA reveals that there is likely to be a shortfall in available convenience expenditure when based on the generic figures for turnover originally submitted for the size of store proposed and taking into consideration the existing retail offer. It should however be noted that Sainsbury’s has been confirmed as the retail operator for Cross Hands as well as Llandeilo, so the company specific figures can be used rather than the generic figures previously used. It should be noted that individual stores trade above and below the company national average and it is accepted that in circumstances where two stores are developed in relatively close proximity by the same retailer, the turnover is likely to be below the national average figures.

The NLP critique reveals that the amount of available convenience expenditure to support an individual store in the Cross Hands ‘catchment’ to be 37.43m taking into consideration the existing retailers, leakage from the catchment, and potential to draw peripheral trade into the catchment from surrounding areas. The original benchmark figures (being an average turnover density of the main foodstore operators) would have resulted in a turnover of 46.62m which would result in an expenditure deficit of 9.19m (37.43m minus 46.62) which would have had a significant impact on other retailers. However when the figures are amended to reflect Sainsbury’s operating figures, the expected convenience turnover (taken from the latest Verdict UK Food & Grocery Retailers report, September 2011) is 41.56m when factored at national average turnover density, lowering to 33.24m when expressed at 80% of national average turnover density - the level at which the store is expected to trade based on the two stores being recommended for approval. In the two store scenario with overlapping catchments, as recommended for approval, the available expenditure for the Cross Hands catchment is reduced to 29.56m. If the revised turnover and available expenditure figures are applied, the overall convenience deficit is reduced from 9.19m to 3.68m (29.56m - 33.24m).

To make the store viable, trade would be expected to come from within and outside the immediate catchment, which would therefore see an impact on existing stores within Cross Hands and would also be reliant on the introduction of a new retail offer capturing passing trade i.e. tourists and commuters, and diverting peripheral trade i.e. those from the surrounding settlements who would normally shop in Ammanford, Carmarthen, Llanelli or Pontardulais.

The NLP critique confirms that there is no shortfall in comparison goods capacity.

On balance, whilst need is not fully demonstrated, the shortfall is greatly reduced with a single operator and Planning Policy Wales suggests that the weight afforded to quantitative need compared to other material considerations is at the discretion of local planning authorities.

Impact

The impact of the proposal on the locality and also the wider retail picture needs to be carefully considered.

At average Sainsbury’s turnover levels and the generic turnover figures, the proposal would have a significant impact on local retailers. Aldi, being a discount retailer trades in a different sector of the market and is currently overtrading significantly compared to Aldi’s company average figures, so is not likely to be as badly affected. The commercial outlets in the village centre are of a more specialised niche nature so again serve a different role to a large convenience store. The greatest impact is likely to be on the Co-operative as it would be competing directly with the larger Sainsbury’s store. As set out in the section on need above, it is expected that the store would trade at 80% of the Sainsbury’s average if developed in conjunction with Llandeilo, even so, there would be a shortfall in expenditure of 3.19m, so the impact is on the Co-operative is likely to be significant. It should be noted however that the Co-operative is not in a protected town centre location so does not benefit from policy protection.

In order to make the store viable it would rely on retaining trade currently being lost to competition in Ammanford, Carmarthen, Pontardulais and Llanelli, and gaining peripheral trade from these larger settlements, however this is not likely to have an adverse impact on these settlements as the loss of peripheral trade would not significantly affect their main customer base. The introduction of a new retailer in the County is considered to offer choice and qualitative benefit so is not likely to have an adverse impact overall.

The cumulative impact for the two stores recommended for approval is set out below.

Accepting that both stores being recommended for approval (both operated by Sainsbury’s) trade at 80% of national average turnover density, a point which has been confirmed by Sainsbury’s, the convenience turnover of each store will be 33.24 and 17.05m for Cross Hands and Llandeilo respectively (Verdict UK Food & Grocery Retailers report, September 2011). The combined convenience turnover of the two stores will therefore be 50.29m. The cumulative capacity in the catchment serving both stores is estimated by NLP to be 44.4m resulting in a shortfall in convenience capacity of 5.89m.

The cumulative impact on the wider area is therefore likely to be greater given the larger shortfall, compared to either of the stores viewed in isolation. However the impact of the two stores would also be spread over a wider geographical area including Ammanford which is geographically in between the two stores recommended for approval. The NLP critique however also identifies retail capacity within the Ammanford catchment as reported elsewhere on the agenda, which is overlapping the Cross Hands and Llandeilo catchments, which would be most likely shared between Cross Hands and Llandeilo if Ammanford is refused, so any adverse impacts are likely to be dispersed and diluted.

The qualitative benefits should also be noted, and the introduction of a new retail offer within the County at an important transport node is significant. Cross Hands is also part of a dual core Growth Area so these benefits of choice would also extend to those living within the Ammanford catchment.

There is no shortfall in comparison goods capacity with either store individually or cumulatively.

TRANSPORT ASSESSMENT

The Transport Assessment has been prepared by one of the Council’s approved consultants therefore the conclusions have been accepted. As the site is in close proximity to the trunk road, the wider implications have also been scrutinised by the South Wales Trunk Roads Agency.

The TA proposes the following to minimise traffic generation from the site:

In terms of the proposal, the link road would have a signalised junction at Llandeilo Road, and priority junctions at Carmarthen Road and Heol y Parc.

The capacity of these junctions and the surrounding network has been assessed and necessary works were identified at Gorslas ‘Six Ways’ junction to allow a protected “ghost” island for traffic seeking to turn towards Heol y Parc. It has subsequently been revealed that this would necessitate the removal of public realm improvements and would be cost prohibitive compared to the benefit derived. The traffic projections have been re-evaluated and it is considered that the works proposed were based on a worst case scenario in terms of traffic generation and that they are not now considered necessary. Additionally part time signals on the A48 roundabout have been identified as necessary as the roundabout is likely to be above capacity at 2030. The views of SWTRA are therefore material to the consideration of whether this application is appropriate.

SWTRA has assessed the submitted Transport Assessment and has been in detailed discussions with the applicant’s agents. However there appears to be a capacity issue with the roundabout at the year 2030 (regardless of whether the proposal is implemented), which would potentially result in the impedance of traffic on the trunk road. There is also concern over the signalised junction on Llandeilo Road backing traffic up onto the roundabout with the introduction of a pedestrian phase. The Welsh Government has therefore issued a direction to refuse the application, however if the issues can be satisfactorily resolved, the direction will be withdrawn. The recommendation below is therefore to be minded to approve subject to the withdrawal of the Welsh Government direction.

CONCLUSION

In accordance with the requirements of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999, the application has been screened to establish whether an Environmental Impact Assessment is required. Given the scale and nature of the proposal, and based on the responses received from relevant consultees, the development was considered to be of more than local importance and an Environmental Impact Assessment was considered necessary. An Environmental Statement was therefore submitted as summarised above.

After careful consideration of the site and surrounding environs in light of the information submitted the following conclusions and recommendations are drawn.

As Members are aware the Local Planning Authority usually seeks community Benefit contributions under the UDP towards affordable housing from developments in excess of 5 units in rural areas and education and open play space from developments in excess of 10 residential units. The relevant service areas within the Authority provide information in relation to their requirements based upon need, priority, etc. The applicants have agreed the following to be either provided on site or through a legal agreement as identified below:

Education – Improvements to Maes Yr Yrfa School in the form of improvements to the playing fields facilitated by the re-contouring of the site and formation of additional land for sports use. Additionally the formation of a new bus terminus for pupil drop off / pick up. The level of benefit arising from the above is considered to be substantial and adequate to satisfy the need for educational contributions so no financial contribution is proposed.

Open Space – The site is immediately adjoining Cross Hands Park so accessibility to open space is very good. The site is providing a substantial amount of greenspace along the river corridor in order to provide a connectivity route for Marsh Fritillary butterfly and also to mitigate the loss of BAP habitat on the site. This would form a substantial amount of informal open space on site. No further contribution is therefore proposed.

Marsh Fritillary Butterfly Mitigation – In order to mitigate the loss of internationally important breeding habitat on site, a financial contribution has been agreed with CCW as an appropriate way to satisfy the requirements of the Habitat Regulations. A sum of 300,000 has been identified as a suitable contribution towards the wider mitigation scheme for the meta-population area, however there could be other forms of suitable mitigation subject to agreement with CCW. The matter will need to be subject to a private legal agreement given the fact that the authority is part of the joint venture promoting the site. The wider mitigation scheme is being formulated and set out in supplementary planning guidance which will sit alongside the Local Development Plan.

Affordable Housing – The proposal includes the principle of 16 acres of housing land which would deliver approximately 200 houses at a reasonable density. The precise numbers and layout are not however being considered at this time. Whilst it is acknowledged that there are considerable costs involved in the development of the site, a reasonable percentage of affordable homes will need to be provided in order to satisfy the housing needs of the area. In view of both the abnormal costs associated with the development of the site, and the expectation for a reasonable element of affordable housing to be provided, a suitably worded condition is considered appropriate to safeguard such provision in adherence with relevant UDP policy.

In terms of the retail store, local and national policy directs major retail to town centres as the first presumption then edge of centre locations before considering out of centre locations. In context, Cross Hands has no defined town centre however is part of the dual core growth area and it is acknowledged in the County Retail Assessment that there is scope for additional retail to serve the Growth Area. The site is to the rear of the main commercial street and there is a small existing supermarket on the site, so although not within or adjacent to a defined town centre, the location is well related to the centre of Cross Hands and would have the benefit of providing linked trip to the smaller more specialised shops and business within the village centre. The store of the size proposed would also allow for a main food shop to be undertaken. As indicated previously the site is out of centre in retail policy terms but there are no suitable, viable and available sequentially preferable sites and accordingly the location is considered acceptable in planning policy terms. The proposal is likely to have a negative impact on the existing Co-operative store as it would provide direct competition, however it does not benefit from any protection in planning policy terms. The store is located on the Cross Hands Business Park one of three in the County that is designated as Retail Parks and defined as District Centres. Policy R10 of the UDP does not offer any protection to the existing operators and refers to uses such as large retail houses, including garden centres and car showrooms and appropriate leisure facilties.

TAN 4 does make reference to District Centres however which is defined as :

District shopping centres - groups of shops, separate from the town centre, usually containing at least one food supermarket or superstore, and non-retail services such as banks, building societies and restaurants. This is not strictly the role of the Cross Hands park as outlined in the UDP.
However the impact on the Co-op store has been considered and the auhtority conclude the substantial benefits brought about by the development outweigh the harm to the operation of the store.

It is understood that the Co-operative is under trading and has recently subdivided with the addition of a clothing line concession within the store, whereby the convenience retail element has reduced in size and importance. The business park is not a protected town centre therefore there is no policy protection for existing retailers. The immediate local market would not sustain a store of the size proposed based solely on the existing and projected shopping patterns of residents, however the introduction of a Sainsbury’s Store would offer choice that is not currently available in the area, therefore it is likely that shopping patterns would change and peripheral trade would be diverted from Carmarthen, Ammanford and Llanelli. It is further noted that Cross Hands is also on the main arterial route through South Wales, so there would be a degree of passing trade from commuters and tourists, which, combined with the diversion of trade from the larger settlements would make the store viable. The viability of the store combined with their application in Llandeilo has been assessed by the named operator and it is considered that there is sufficient commercial case within the County to make the two stores viable. The introduction of choice would not however have an adverse impact on existing settlements as the central location of Cross Hands is such that the customers are likely to come from a diverse catchment and not affect the core trade from one settlement in particular. As the County Retail Study recognises, the scope to increase retention rates is dependent upon the size and attraction of any proposed foodstore. This is considered to be the key driver behind and benefit of the proposal – its size and offer will reverse the current unsustainable pattern of expenditure leakage. The retail proposal is therefore considered to be acceptable subject to referral to the Welsh Government under the Shopping Directive.

The supporting TA maintains that the site can be safely accessed and no objections have been lodged against the proposed development by the Head of Transport. The late response and direction from SWTRA to refuse is further qualified in an accompanying letter stating that the intention of the direction is to preclude any grant of planning permission pending satisfactory resolution of the outstanding issues and queries raised by them as regards the likely impact upon the free flow of traffic using the A48 roundabout. Subject to detailed consideration and resolution of those issues, SWTRA would withdraw their direction. At the present time the transport consultants are in discussion with SWTRA and it is hoped that these issues will have been resolved by the time this application comes before the Planning Committee.

Under the Habitat Regulations 2010, an appropriate assessment needs to be submitted and agreed to ensure there is no adverse impact on the European site and species. There have been detailed discussions on ecological matters relating to this and other sites in the Cross Hands area. CCW is the Welsh Government body charged with ecological matters and it considers that 300,000 is a necessary and appropriate sum. This, along with the green corridor through the site, would be adequate mitigation for the loss of Marsh Fritillary breeding habitat and connectivity. There could however be alternative ways of providing mitigation as set out in the Habitat Regulations Assessment for the Local Development Plan. Any permission however would need to be subject to a formal Appropriate Assessment being prepared by the Authority and forwarded to CCW, affording them a reasonable period of time within which to comment, should they choose to do so.

On balance, giving careful consideration to the material planning considerations set out above, whilst the proposal is likely to have a negative impact on Co-operative store, the site is a strategic regeneration site as designated in the UDP. Located within the Ammanford/Cross Hands Growth Area it is a major component in the development of one of the 3 Growth Areas in the County and the basis of the UDP Sustainable Strategic Settlement framework. While ideally the development of the site should have been guided through the preparation of a Development Brief the emergence of a private/public partnership has facilitated bringing forward the site through an outline planning application, an approach that has been applied to other major sites. The composition of the scheme meets the requirements of the UDP in delivering a mixed use development with the supermarket, not only generating job opportunities, acting as a key component in bringing forward a site with major environmental constraints. Given the increased emphasis on deliverability in the LDP process the development delivers one of the key objective of the UDP of promoting mixed use development.

PPW also encourages mixed use development which would have community benefits, sustain and enhance vitality attractiveness and viability of settlements and encourage linked trips. It is considered that the overall benefits to the County in terms of the regeneration and remediation of a previously developed mineral site, provision of infrastructure, employment from the retail unit, housing, open space and education outweigh the negative impacts. Therefore the proposal is considered to be in accordance with the above policies.

It is recommended that the application be approved subject to the following:

RECOMMENDATION – APPROVAL

CONDITIONS

1 Application for approval of reserved matters must be made to the Local Planning Authority before the expiration of three years from the date of this permission, and the development must be commenced not later than whichever is the later of the following:-

2 The permission now granted is an outline permission only, within the meaning of the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995.

3 No built works within any phase (defined in condition 4) shall commence until detailed plans of the layout (minus the location of the retail unit and the strategic points of access into the site – approved in full as part of this permsision), scale, external appearance and landscaping of the development together with the internal access roads have been submitted to and been approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

4 The general phasing of the development (as illustrated on plan ref. (--)05 revision D) shall be as follows, unless otherwise agreed in writing by the local planning authority: Phase 1 – Reconfiguration of the Workingman’s Clubhouse:

Phase 2 – Vehicular access and Retail Foodstore.
Phase 3 – Medical Centre and Residential Care Home.
Phase 4 – Residential Areas (Plots 1-4)

5 Prior to commencement of the phases as set out in Condition 5 above, where identified in the Environmental Statement (February 2011), a species mitigation / translocation scheme shall be submitted for species identified within that phase of the development. Schemes shall give effect to the mitigation strategy set out in the Environmental Statement unless otherwise agreed in writing. No development shall take place until the mitigation scheme has been approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority and development shall take place strictly in accordance with the scheme.

6 No development or site clearance shall take place prior to a Japanese Knotweed Management Plan being submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. All site clearance works shall be carried out strictly in accordance with the approved management plan.

7 Any reserved matters application for the road and infrastructure shall include details of acoustic fences to the rear of properties in Poplar Court and Bancyffynnon. The acoustic fence shall be installed prior to any other works or development on site and shall be retained thereafter in perpetuity.

8 No development or clearance of land shall take place in advance of the initial habitat mitigation being paid and an agreed scheme of mitigation being implemented, unless otherwise agreed in writing by the local planning authority.

9 The sewage generated by the retail unit shall flow to the Cross Hands Waste Water Treatment Works (WwTW). The quantum of foul sewage generated by the site and sent to the Cross Hands WwTW from the retail unit shall not exceed the levels that can be generated by the existing retail units on site. All other sewage shall be connected to the Pontyberem Treatment Works subject to Condition 11 below.

10 No work shall commence on the construction of the dwellings, health centre or residential care home hereby approved until 31st March 2015, or the successful installation and operation of a phosphate stripping plant at Pontyberem Waste Water Treatment Works, whichever is the sooner.

11 The new dwellings hereby permitted shall be constructed to achieve a minimum Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3 and achieve a minimum of 1 credit under category ‘Ene1 - Dwelling Emission Rate’ in accordance with the requirements of the Code for Sustainable Homes: Technical Guide November 2010. The development shall be carried out entirely in accordance with the approved assessment and certification.

12 Construction of the dwellings hereby permitted shall not begin until an ‘Interim Certificate’ has been submitted to the Local Planning Authority, certifying that a minimum Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3 and a minimum of 1 credits under ‘Ene1 - Dwelling Emission Rate’, has been achieved for that individual dwelling or house type in accordance with the requirements of the Code for Sustainable Homes: Technical Guide November 2010.

13 Prior to the occupation of the individual dwellings hereby permitted, a Code for Sustainable Homes ‘Final Certificate’’ shall be submitted to the Local Planning Authority certifying that a minimum Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3 and a minimum of 1 credit under ‘Ene1 - Dwelling Emission Rate’, has been achieved for that dwelling in accordance with the requirements of the Code for Sustainable Homes: Technical Guide November 2010.

14 Any development over 1000sqm (gross floorspace) hereby approved shall be constructed to achieve a minimum BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) ‘Very Good’ standard and achieve the mandatory credits for ‘Excellent’ under issue Ene1 - Reduction of CO2 Emission in accordance with the requirements of BREEAM New Construction, Non-Domestic Buildings, Technical Manual SD5073 -1.0:2011.

15 The construction of any development over 1000sqm (gross floorspace) shall not commence until an ‘Interim Certificate’ has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority, certifying that a minimum BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) ‘Very Good’ standard and the mandatory credits for ‘Excellent’ under issue Ene1 - Reduction of CO2 Emission has been achieved for each building in accordance with the requirements of BREEAM New Construction, Non-Domestic Buildings, Technical Manual SD5073 -1.0:2011.

16 Prior to the beneficial use of development over 1000sqm (gross floorspace) hereby approved a ‘Final Certificate’ shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority, certifying that a minimum BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) ‘Very Good’ standard and the mandatory credits for ‘Excellent’ under issue Ene1 - Reduction of CO2 Emission has been achieved for that building in accordance with the requirements of BREEAM New Construction, Non-Domestic Buildings, Technical Manual SD5073 -1.0:2011.

17 No development shall take place on the application site until the applicant has:

18 If, during development, any contamination should be encountered which was not previously identified and is derived from a different source and/or of a different type to those included in the 'Remediation Strategy’ then a revised 'Remediation Strategy' shall be submitted to the Local Planning Authority.

19 If, during development, site contaminants are found in areas previously expected to be clean, then their remediation shall be carried out in line with the agreed 'Remediation Strategy’.

20 Prior to occupation of any part of the permitted development, a verification report demonstrating completion of the works set out in the approved remediation strategy and the effectiveness of the remediation shall be submitted to and approved, in writing, by the local planning authority. The report shall include results of sampling and monitoring carried out in accordance with the approved verification plan to demonstrate that the site remediation criteria have been met. It shall also include any plan (a “long-term monitoring and maintenance plan”) for longer-term monitoring of pollutant linkages, maintenance and arrangements for contingency action, as identified in the verification plan, and for the reporting of this to the local planning authority.

21 Reports on monitoring, maintenance and any contingency action carried out in accordance with a long-term monitoring and maintenance plan shall be submitted to the local planning authority as set out in that plan. On completion of the monitoring programme a final report demonstrating that all long- term site remediation criteria have been met and documenting the decision to cease monitoring shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority.

22 The access road through the site linking Llandeilo Road, Heol y Parc and Carmarthen Road shall be completed and open for general traffic prior to the beneficial use or occupation of the new development hereby approved. Prior to its use by vehicular traffic, the new access road shall be laid out and constructed as follows unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

Heol y Parc Access

Carmarthen Road Access

Llandeilo Road Access

23 Prior to the commencement of development on each phase, the written approval of the Local Planning Authority shall be obtained for a scheme of parking within the curtilage of the site in accordance with CSS Wales Parking Standards, and this shall be dedicated to serve the proposal. The approved scheme is to be fully implemented prior to any part of the development being brought into use, and thereafter shall be retained, unobstructed, in perpetuity.

24 Prior to the commencement of retail development hereby approved, the written approval of the Local Planning Authority shall be obtained for a scheme of parking, turning, loading and unloading facilities for commercial vehicles, within the curtilage of the site, and this shall be dedicated to serve the proposal. The approved scheme is to be fully implemented prior to any part of the development being brought into use, and thereafter shall be retained, unobstructed, in perpetuity.

25 Prior to the occupation of any of the dwellings herewith approved on each of the respective residential land parcels identied on the approved parameters plan, the required access roads and footpaths from the proposed public highway shall be laid out and constructed strictly in accordance with the plans herewith approved, to at least the base course levels, and with the visibility splays provided.

26 Any reserved matters application on this site shall be accompanied by full details of landscaping works. These details shall include indications of all existing trees and hedgerow on the land, those to be retained: planting plans: written specifications: schedules of plants, noting species, plant sizes and proposed numbers/densities: implementation schedule and maintenance programme. Landscaping shall be implemented in accordance with the approved scheme and shall be retained thereafter in perpetuity.

27 No construction of dwelling units on any phase of residential development herewith approved shall commence until a scheme for the provision of affordable housing as part of the development has been submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority. The affordable housing shall be provided in accordance with the approved scheme. The scheme shall include:

REASONS

1 Required to be imposed pursuant to Section 91 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

2-3 The application is in outline only.

4 To ensure the appropriate phasing of development.

5 To ensure there is no loss of habitat without appropriate mitigation.

6 In order to ensure the eradication of the invasive species.

7 To protect the amenities of adjoining householders.

8 To ensure that suitable mitigation measures have been agreed and implemented prior to the loss of habitat in accordance with the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.

9-10 In order to avoid the deterioration of the water quality in the rivers Gwendraeth Fawr and Gwili.

11-16 In the interests of sustainable development.

17-21 In order to remove contamination on the site.

22-25 In the interests of highway safety.

26 In the interests of visual amenity.

27 To secure affordable housing on the site to satisfy local needs.

SUMMARY REASONS FOR APPROVAL

In accordance with Article 3 of the Town & Country Planning (General Development Procedure)(Wales)(Amendment)Order 2004, the council hereby certify that the proposal as hereby approved conforms with the relevant policies of the Development Plan (comprising the Carmarthenshire Unitary Development Plan (UDP) Adopted July 2006) and material considerations do not indicate otherwise. The policies which refer are as follows:

NOTES

1 The development hereby permitted shall be carried out strictly in accordance with the approved amended drawing numbers (-)05D received 26 August 2011, C933-111C received 15 March 2012, & Figure A2 & Figure A3 received 19 January 2012.

2 Where any species listed under Schedules 2 or 4 of The Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc) Regulations 1994 is present on the site in respect of which this permission is hereby granted, no works of site clearance, demolition or construction shall take place in pursuance of this permission unless a licence to disturb any such species has been granted in accordance with the aforementioned Regulation and a copy thereof has been produced to the Local Planning Authority.

3 Please note that this permission is specific to the plans and particulars approved as part of the application. Any departure from the approved plans will constitute unauthorised development and may be liable to enforcement action. You (or any subsequent developer) should advise the Council of any actual or proposed variations from the approved plans immediately so that you can be advised how to best resolve the matter.

4 The applicant/developer’s attention is drawn to the attached Environment Agency’s response to consultation.

5 The applicant/developer’s attention is drawn to the attached Welsh Water response to consultation.

6 All surface water from the development herewith approved shall be trapped and disposed of so as to ensure that it does not flow on to any part of the public highway.

7 No surface water from the development herewith approved shall be disposed of, or connected into, existing highway surface water drains.

8 Planning permission does not allow for the obstruction or diversion of the two public rights of way 33/24 & 31/14 crossing the site. Any works for the diversion or temporary stopping up of the specified footpaths will need to be subject to a formal application under highways legislation.

9 All appropriate pollution control measures must be adopted on site during the construction phase to ensure that the integrity of controlled waters (surface and groundwaters) is assured. Pollution prevention guidance is available from Environment Agency Wales website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/ppg. We would require the developer to produce a Method Statement detailing all necessary pollution prevention measures for the construction phase of the development. This could form a condition of any consent granted.

The Method Statement should cover as a minimum:

10 The Authority’s Public Protection division requires that an Air Quality Assessment be carried out by the developers to ascertain the potential impacts on local air quality associated with the development proposals. This should be submitted with relevant reserved matters applications. In preparing the Air Quality Assessment, the applicant may wish to refer to the document titled “Development Control: Planning For Air Quality” (2010 Update), published by Environmental Protection UK. An electronic copy of this document can be provided by this Division, if required.

11 The Authority’s Public Protection division requires that a Noise Impact Assessment (NIA) be undertaken in order to predict the effect of the development as a whole on the surrounding area. This should be submitted with relevant reserved matters applications. Taking into account the mixed nature of the various developments (retail foodstore, residential development, medical care facility, residential care home, Workingman’s Club, etc), the NIA should rank the nosiest items of services/plant/equipment and associated activities in relation to these developments. The NIA should also note the developments’ location on a plan and the duration of the specific noise and the predicted noise level at various relevant noise sensitive properties, paying particular attention to the nearest noise sensitive properties.

Application No

S/23781

Application Type

Full Planning

Proposal &
Location

PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT OF THE CROSSHANDS EAST STRATEGIC EMPLOYMENT SITE (SES) ACCESS ROAD, COMPRISING A NEW 7.3M SINGLE CARRIAGEWAY ROAD, VERGE, FOOTPATH/CYCLEWAY, NEW CROSSHANDS BUSINESS PARK FOUR ARM ROUNDABOUT JUNCTION, GATED LIVESTOCK ACCESS, NEW GHOST ISLAND PRIORITY JUNCTION TO THE PROPOSED SES, NEW SIMPLE PRIORITY JUNCTION ON TO BLACK LION ROAD, NEW SIMPLE PRIORITY JUNCTION ON TO HEOL PARC MAWR, GHOST ISLAND PRIORITY JUNCTION AT MEADOWS ROAD, FOOTPATHS, LIGHTING, DRAINAGE, RETENTION POND, LANDSCAPING, RETAINING WALLS, SITE REMEDIATION, PLUS ASSOCIATED ENGINEERING OPERATIONS AT LAND SOUTH OF THE CROSSHANDS EAST STRATEGIC EMPLOYMENTS SITE BETWEEN THE A48 MEADOWS ROAD, HEOL STANLLYD, HEOL PARC MAWR AND BLACK LION ROAD, GREENGROVE, CROSSHANDS; PLUS LAND AT PLOT 6A AND PLOT 6B, CROSSHANDS BUSINESS PARK, CROSSHANDS, CARMS.

Applicant(s)

JONATHAN FEARN

Agent

JESSICA JONES

Case Officer

John Thomas

Electoral Ward

Llannon

Date of validation

28/09/2010

CONSULTATIONS

Head of Transport - No observations received to date.

South Wales Trunk Roads Agency (SWTRA) – Recommend conditional planning permission be granted.

Head of Public Protection – No objection subject to the imposition of appropriate conditions.

Llannon Community Council - No observations received to date.

Llandybie Community Council - Support the approval of this application.

Local Members (Llandybie and Llannon) - County Councillors S Thomas and P Williams have not commented to date. County Councillors T Davies is a members of the Planning Committee and therefore has made no prior comment.

Environment Agency Wale - No objection, subject to the imposition of appropriately worded conditions.

Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water - No objection.

Countryside Council for Wales – Sates that it is broadly in agreement with the mitigation strategy put forward in the Environmental Statement, provided the proposed mitigation and site management of the site is safeguarded, together with the payment of a financial contribution towards Marsh Fritillary Butterfly (MFB) habitat management in the wider area is secured.

Coal Authority – Has no objection to the proposed development in light of the submitted coal mining report.

Dyfed Archaeology – has no objection as there are no historic constraints on site.

Neighbours/Public - The application has been publicised by means of the posting of site noticies in the vicinity of the application site, as well as in the local press. In total 149 separate written representations have been received, all of which object to the development bar one:

- only part of the site lies within settlement limits;

- No evaluation of other employment sites in the UDP;

Support:

RELEVANT PLANNING HISTORY

The application site and immediately adjacent land has been the subject of the following previous and pending planning applications:-

W/23782 Proposed development of Industrial

S/20431 Proposed extensions to existing meat

W/19918 Industrial development (including

S/18329 Extension to form new packaging area

E/13996 Extension to meat processing plant to

S/12235 To retain development undertaken

S/11153 Variation of conditions 2 & 4 to full

Withdrawn 16 January 2006

S/12564 Proposed steel framed storage and

S/09901 2 NO. steel framed buildings designed

S/09401 Construction of retaining wall and

S/08002 Proposed curing room, preparation

GW/05148 Meat processing plant

S/02600 Proposed single storey extension

D5/15351 Haulage contractor’s depot and

D5/12359 Manufacturing premises to

D5/10837 Industrial building for sale of tyres,

D5/7995 Link Road between southern

D5/7640 Extension to Crosshands

D5/6716 Light/Industrial retail

D5/6715 Extension to Crosshands

APPRAISAL

This is an application which Carmarthenshire County Council has an interest in as landowner and developer.

THE SITE

The main application site consists of a linear area of land to the north east of the Cross Hands Business Park which extends north from Heol Parc Mawr to Black Lion Road, Cross Hands. The site mainly includes an area of improved agricultural pasture which lies north of the Shufflebottom Steel Fabrication Factory and east of Greengrove Farm, and is contiguous with Black Lion Road along an undeveloped stretch of road frontage between the properties Dolwerdd and Pen-y-waun.

The surrounding topography is one of a gently sloping and rolling landscape located at the head of the Gwendraeth Valley. The surrounding land uses comprise of existing industrial developments on the established Cross Hands Business Park to the southern end of the site along Heol Parc Mawr, while adjacent to Greengrove Farm and east of Pen-y-waun there is established residential developments.

To the lower extent of the application site the proposal takes in part of the forecourt area to the Shufflebottom Factory to the east, a small area of the mixed concrete batching plant to the west and part of Heol Parc Mawr. A further linear slither of land inclusive of highway, verge and the road junctions with Meadows Road and Heol Stanllyd are also included.

THE PROPOSAL

The proposal seeks full planning permission for the construction of a 250 metre long and 7.3m wide single carriageway road (one lane in each direction) linking Heol Parc Mawr and Black Lion Road, together with associated curtilage works. Inclusive of the new access road would be a 2.5m shared footway/cycleway to the northern side of the road with planted and graded verge areas; a new four arm roundabout junction on Heol Parc Mawr with junctions for the new access road and to the Cig Calon Cymru Abattoir; new priority junctions onto Black Lion Road and secondary access onto Heol Parc Mawr; a new dedicated access junction off the new road section to serve the proposed Cross Hands East Strategic Employment Site (SES); creation of a retention pond; landscaping works; site remediation; together with various drainage, lighting and highway improvement works. The entire application site extends to some 3.4 hectares in area and includes, in addition to County Council owned land various third party land interests. All known parties who are affected have been served with a requisite notice of this application, while a further public notice was also published in the national press in the event that unregistered land may also be affected.

The proposed new access road is shown to follow a north-eastly route from the new four arm roundabout to be constructed on the corner of Heol Parc Mawr - on part of the present forecourt to Shufflebottom’s fabrication building - and between it and the ready mix concrete plant. From that point the new road would follow a shallow ark east of the Cig Calon Cymru Abattoir and Greengrove Farm, curving round west of the Heol Derwen and Clos Pen-y-waun residential estates, before joining Black Lion Road at a point along an undeveloped frontage between the properties Pen-y-waun and Dolwerdd. Following initial representations from certain residents on the latter estates the applicants have amended the route and alignment of the road to take it further away from those properties, thereby providing a 15m separation from the verge of the new road to the boundary fence of the nearest domestic property. The initial and realigned sections of the road have been drafted in accordance with national highway design geometry standards (Design Manual for Roads & Bridges) for the proposed speed limit of the new road, and are accompanied by a series of cross-sections and specification drawings along the length of the new road, including details of the off-site on-highway improvements further south along Heol Parc Mawr and junctions with Meadows Road and Heol Stanllyd.

The application was accompanied by the following raft of supporting documentation:-

Environmental Impact Assessment

Following extensive pre-application discussions with officers and representatives of the key statutory bodies regarding both this proposal, and the parallel outline planning application (ref. W/23782) for a new industrial/business park on land to the immediate west of the new access road, it was concluded that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was required. The proposed development falls within the scope of projects described in Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 1999 by virtue of the scale and environmental sensitivity of the area. A generic EIA was then commissioned, covering the following principle topic areas :-

The assessment of these key subject matters is provided in the submitted Environmental Statement (ES) and are summarised as follows:-

Air Quality

This chapter of the ES covers the potential air quality impacts of the proposed developments during both the construction and operational phases, in accordance with the relevant air quality legislation provided for by the Air Quality Standards (Wales) Regulations 2000 and 2010. This chapter considered both the Construction Phase – with the potential for dust emissions from plant equipment and vehicle movement – and Operational Phase – potential increases in emissions from the new access road, and emissions from the proposed industrial units, offices, commercial units, hotel and resource centre. The assessment of air quality impacts was undertaken based upon a with and without development scenarios.

The baseline conditions for all potential pollutants included in the Local Air Quality Management plan, given Carmarthenshire County Council figures 2009 and 2008 shows the annual mean nitrogen dioxide concentrations well below the air quality standard. The assessment of net effect on local air quality, using the Transport Analysis Guidance (TAG) issued by the DoT, show that the likely impacts for the two principle elements of nitrogen dioxide and particulates on local receptors and ecologically designated sites would be negligible.

Cultural Heritage

This chapter of the ES covers the sub-topics of “Archaeology”, “Historic Buildings” and “Historic Landscapes”. In accordance with the methodology laid down in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) an assessment of the value of all cultural heritage assets within the study area was undertaken, followed by a measure of the “magnitude of impact” on each heritage asset. Both were then combined to determine the “significance of effect”.

Historically, the built heritage of the area is rooted in the coal mining industry with evidence of extensive extraction activity in and around the site. The prevailing land use on the site is that of agriculture, predominantly pasture, while a caravan park located centrally within the site. To the immediate south is the existing Cross Hands Business Park, while to the north along Black Lion Road stands a ribbon development of residential properties. Further residential properties stand to the far west, beyond a buffer zone of rough ground along Ty Newydd Terrace. The wider setting of the site is dominated by a gently rolling agricultural landscape of semi-improved grassland, marshy grassland and broadleaf woodland.

Site specific historic records show that coal extraction has taken place in and around Cross Hands since the end of the 18th century, only ceasing to the latter part of the last century. A cultural heritage assessment of the site identified no heritage assets with any statutory designation within the application site or immediate vicinity. Similarly, there are no historic landscape designations applicable to the site and study area. The conclusion of which being, that there would be no physical impact upon any features with statutory designations.

Ecology and Nature Conservation

Combining both the scientific study of the processes that influence the distribution and abundance of organisms and their interaction with their environment, and the maintenance of viable populations of fauna and flora and the habitats and communities to which they belong, are the basis for this chapter.

A desk top study followed by a field survey of the application site identified both those features likely to be present on the site, as well as the necessary survey work to inform the assessment. The baseline ecological surveys covered the following:

The Habitat Survey findings identified a variety of broad vegetation types including woodland (broad-leaved semi-natural); scrub; hedgerows (sixty six hedgerows surveyed); grassland (acid marshy, semi-improved, unimproved, improved); tall-herb and fern vegetation; ponds and streams. The bat survey concluded that the area was a significant foraging resource for the common pipistrelle bat, while for other species of bats detected there was little evidence of their presence. As for otter, there was no actual evidence within or through the site, or in the vicinity of the artificial pond on the caravan park, while some old evidence several hundred metres from the site was recorded.

While the habitat provided by the site was found to be suitable for water vole, none were recorded during the walk-over survey. Similar results and conclusions were drawn for badger, with no setts or badger activity recorded within the site. Habitats suitable for dormouse was confirmed, together with evidence of feeding recorded in two of the hedgerows.

The majority of the site area was considered unsuitable habitat for reptiles, while rare casual sightings of common lizard and slow worm were recorded.. Again, similar results were found for amphibians inclusive of common frog and toad, while there were no actual sightings of other species.

A total of 35 species of birds were recorded, 26 of which showed evidence of breeding, while a small number of those recorded were of high conservation concern.

For habitat assessment purposes relating to terrestrial invertebrates, a number of areas were selected for detailed sampling, principally with the intention of searching for the marsh fritillary butterfly (MFB). While the sample areas included species—rich wet grassland, bog and scrub and associated under-scrub – important habitats for invertebrates – no MFB were recorded. While species diversity was reasonably high, the recorded results were considered to be under-representative, probably due to the unseasonably high rainfall levels during survey periods.

The assessment recognises there will be some habitat loss as a result of the construction and operation of the SES and associated new access road, but also puts forward a number of mitigation measures:

In respect of proposed habitat creation/improvement, to ameliorate the effects of habitat loss, the proposal will rework an area of 1.5 hectares to create a marshy grassland habitat. Approximately 5 hectares of the application site is to be retained as green space, planted and managed with the intention of providing a vegetative habitat conducive to the MFB. Likewise, pond areas are to be enhanced as habitat for amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates. Planting along road corridors will not only provide habitats, but also retain connectivity and improve mammal access through the application site.

Landscape and Visual Impact

A landscape and visual assessment of the SES, inclusive of the identification and assessment of the impacts of the proposed development, was undertaken in accordance with the guidance given in the DMRB. The significance (or otherwise) of the impacts of development is dependant upon the sensitivity of the receptor and magnitude of change. While assessment highlights the fact that the UDP does not identify the Cross Hands area as having significant or intrinsic landscape value, there are however notable landscape features within close proximity to it. Notably, the Caeau Mynydd Mawr SAC to the south east, while there are woodland areas, green corridors and wetland habitats within the application site.

The wider area is characterised as an area of rolling hills crossed by a network of medium sized roads, dominated by the route of the A48 dual carriageway. It has a strong and distinct pattern of recent development, both linear residential growth and more consolidated industrial/business/commercial development. The peripheral areas outside of the developed areas are generally non-intensively farmed agricultural land, intersected by hedges and wooded areas. Broadly, the three landscape character areas are: Cross Hands Conurbation and Ribbon Development; Farmland Valley Slopes; and Lowland Fields and Wetland habitat. These areas a further broken down within the assessment methodology and process. The assessment makes certain assumptions based upon the indicative Masterplan for the site and mitigation measures contained therein. Such mitigation dovetail somewhat with the mitigation proposed in the foregoing Ecology and Nature Conservation Chapter. Again these encompass:-

The most immediate and pronounced visual impacts would be during the construction phase, particularly for the new access road as it would extend through largely exposed open fields with uninterrupted views to Black Lion Road. The proposed business park itself would benefit from screening from the more mature boundary vegetation along much of its perimeter, with the intention of retaining as much as possible. More detached views will be less pronounced and diminish over distance. The mitigation and residual impacts of the proposed development on surrounding properties is dependent upon the aforementioned key measures.

Land Use

This chapter considers the agricultural circumstances of the site and the proposed impact the business park and road will have on land to the north east of the Cross Hands Business Park. Under the Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) system some 60% of the application site was classified as “moderate quality” and “poor quality” agricultural land. The majority of the remaining area comprised of “non-agricultural/urban” land. Collectively, even having regard to the ALC, little agricultural use remained across the site.

An assessment of impact on land resources, given the aforementioned ALC breakdown and the fact that none of the land formed part of a commercial agricultural unit, concluded that the present agricultural use(s) of the site posed no significant constraint to the development of the site.

Noise and Vibration

The noise and vibration implications of the scheme focused on the three key stages of construction, operation, and road traffic noise. The assessment had regard to the following principle legislative and policy documents and considerations:-

An indicative assessment of noise during the construction phase was undertaken, based upon typical plant and equipment employed for earthworks activities. For the operational phase a traffic impact assessment considered the potential noise impacts from road traffic for the projected year 2030. The methodology used was that provided by the Calculation of Road Traffic Noise (CRTN) 1988 produced by the DoT.

The conclusions drawn state that while there is the potential for noise levels to exceed normal limits at noise sensitive locations closest to the proposed activities. It recommends that careful consideration be given to ensure acceptable noise levels are not exceeded at affected properties. It does not anticipated that particular phases of the construction process will be adjacent to sensitive receptors for extended periods.

In respect of the operational phase of the development, there may be minor adverse impact as a consequence of noise from fixed plant and equipment, such as air conditioning units, albeit not thought to be significant given relative separation distances from noise sensitive properties. The potential noise impact from road traffic on the other hand could be significant, and it is recommended that noise mitigation measures are employed as part of the development.

Pedestrians, Cyclists, Equestrians and Community Effects

The assessment of likely effects of the proposed development on the above category of pedestrians and others has regard to certain factors such as noise, landscape views, and air quality which are covered elsewhere in the ES. The assessment of effects was again undertaken based upon guidance provided in the DMRB. The prime criteria used to evaluate effects relates to the extent to which the proposals would prejudice or benefit existing movements by way of journey time, safety and amenity value.

Existing local travel patterns of pedestrians and others are normally based upon the location of facilities and residential areas in relation to each other and local layout of roads and paths.

Public transport links within the area include several local bus services from Cross Hands and Gorslas, as well as links to national services throughout the region and further afield. The main residential areas in the vicinity of the application site are Cross Hands to the south and west, Gorslas to the north and west, and Penygroes to the north east. The principle roads that would be intersected by the proposed development are the A48 and Back Lion Road.

As far as paths and Public Rights of Way, the assessment is qualified in that it did not consider any permissive paths. The only footpath affected was that which links Heol Parc Mawr and Black Lion Road, which would be appropriately signposted and the route fenced during any construction phase. It is proposed that the internal road network to the SES will prioritise the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. The proposed new access road will include dedicated footways and cycleway, with informal crossing points placed at key desire lines to achieve continuity of movement. The creation of a primary and secondary vehicle access point to the SES also posses the potential to divert existing bus services from the business park via the SES.

Other indirect positives of the development would be reduced congestion at the Cross Hands roundabout, with an expected increase in pedestrian and others numbers.

The major negative effect of the development would be a general increase in traffic volumes along Black Lion Road, Heol Gorsddu and Waterloo Road.

Water Quality and Drainage

The potential effects on the water environment were identified and assessed in the EIA having regard to the following legislative controls and national guidance:-

The ES recognises that although there are no main rives within the site, there are a number of minor watercourse that flow through the site together with a small number of ponds. The former being tributaries of the River Gwili while the development advice maps (DAMs) that accompany TAN 15 show that the site is not at risk from fluvial flooding.

The intended means of drainage for the site shows a dual system with separate dedicated foul and surface water sewers. The surface water run-off from the SES will be directed via the existing ponds and the attenuated and discharged to a watercourse at a restricted greenfield run-off rate. A separate, new dedicated attenuation pond to serve the access road is also proposed to the immediate east of the proposed new roundabout junction with an agreed run off rate of 20.4 l/s/ha.

All such attenuation ponds will be designed and constructed in accordance with the Sewers for Adoption document published by Dwr Cymry/Welsh Water (DCWW) and will cater for a return period of 100 years with a 20% rainfall allowance for climate change.

All foul drainage from the SES will be discharged to the public sewerage system which gravitates to the Cross Hands Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW).

Water sampling data for the River Gwili dated 2008, taken downstream of the application site and WwTW showed that for the main determinants of chemistry, biology and nitrates the results were good to low, while for phosphorous this was shown to be very high. This is believed to be linked to the effluent discharged from the WwTW, the discharge limits for which are presently in the process of being changed.

Appropriate mitigation measures have been identified and recommended both for the construction and operational phases of development, which should serve to safeguard the water environment from any pollution incidents.

Geology and Soils

This chapter provides an initial assessment of the geology and soils present at the site, together with an evaluation of the potential impact of the development on contaminants that may be present. The latter assessment has adopted the conventional source-pathway-receptor linkage model for the construction phases of the development.

The relevant legislative and regulatory documents referred to in this aspect of the assessment process were:-

The former, Environmental Protection Act and current Contaminated Land Regime relates to contaminated land and the powers available to local authorities with respect to the remediation of contaminated sites. The Town and Country Planning Act qualifies that the contaminated status of land can be a material consideration in the determination of a planning application. For the purposes of the assessment, criteria taken from the EIA Regs. were used to define the likely impacts which may arise from the development.

The past use(s) on the site have predominantly been agriculture, albeit in more recent years a caravan site has been developed off Gorslas Road which now forms a significant part of the application site. Although not now evident from a visual inspection of the site, there is a legacy of coal mining in the immediate vicinity of the site, the majority of which has now been removed and the area remediated with the development of the existing Cross Hands Business Park. It is believed, and confirmed to a degree by on site trial excavations and borehole drilling, that there are areas of made ground to the northern and central areas of the application site. The made ground is predominantly colliery spoil (sandy gravel) of varying depth up to a maximum of 2.7m adjacent to the farmyard to Penybanc Farm. Apart from a thin layer of topsoil across the remainder of the site, and a distinct area of peat to the northern part of the site, the underlying geology comprises of glacial deposits of sandy/gravelly clay above a bedrock of mudstone, siltstone, coal and sandstone. A Coal Mining Report obtained by the consulting geotechnical consultants shows that while the site is in the likely zone of influence from shallow working, it is not within the likely zone of physical influence on the surface of any present underground coal working.

The hydrology of the site is defined by the manmade drain fed lake located within the Black Lion Caravan Park, a relatively recent feature, while a series of minor drains flow through the site in a general south easterly direction. As previously established from reference to EA records, the site does not lie within an area at risk from flooding.

A conceptual site model to assess the risk of contamination on the site, given previous and ongoing uses on the site and surrounding land, identified possible short-term effects from any construction activity as being the most likely. The adoption of recognised best practice for construction sites and customary safeguards would safeguard against this. All other potential risks are of a low to moderate risk level, both on the site and in the immediate area.

Transport Assessment

The application is accompanied by a Transport Assessment (TA) prepared by Arup & Partners who are one of the Authority’s “Gateway” consultants, together with a Travel Plan prepared by the same.

The TA models the potential impact of traffic flows on the local network with and without the proposed development. This has provided an understanding of the operational conditions in the event of not only the present proposed development, but also having regard to the possible cumulative effects of other proposed developments in local network area.

A key feature of the local network is the A48 which is routed approximately 300 metres south of the application site, and performs a key role in the strategic highway network west of the M4 motorway. Its proximity is important in terms of vehicular accessibility and consequently journey times for present and prospective occupiers and customers of businesses on the Cross Hands Business Park. The business park is presently accessed off the A48 via two separate points of access, the first via a junction onto the A48/A476 roundabout, and secondly via eastbound and westbound slip roads that connect to the overbridge across the A48 and join Heol Parc Mawr. The internal road network to the park comprises a loop formed by Heol Stanllyd and Heol Park Mawr, both connected via roundabout junctions off the respective A48 access points.

Given the nature of the existing use(s) of the proposed SES there is no permeable access road through the site, while there is a single track access of Black Lion Road serving those properties on-route to Greengrove Farm, and separate private access roads to Penybanc Farm and Black Lion Caravan Park. There is limited pedestrian access through the site, provided for only via public right of way 31/75 linking Black Lion Road to Heol Parc Mawr. There is no dedicated facilities for cyclists in the business park, with cyclists having to share road space with motor vehicles. There are however a number of bus stops within the existing business park, served by a local service, while there are a further series of bus stops along Black Lion Road.

The proposed concept of a “Sustainable Industrial Park” will comprise a mix of industrial, commercial, offices and hotel uses on the site together with a resource centre. The Design & Access Statement (DAS) provides an indicative Master Plan for the SES which covers the whole 19.1 hectare site. A net developable area of 10.25 hectares quoted in the DAS has provided the consultants with a projected floor area to work by, but a breakdown of the component uses has formed the basis for projecting the associated levels of travel demand.

The vehicular access strategy shows the principle vehicular access to be via the proposed new access road to the east of the SES, with a secondary access to the south via Heol Parc Mawr and the existing business Park. The second access is to provide not only a direct connection to the existing Cross Hands Business Park, but also an alternative route of entry and access in the event of an emergency. This would also increase the level of permeability through the proposed site and potentially the provision of alternative public transport routes, as well as encourage pedestrian and cycle use and movements through the area.

The travel demand for the development is based upon trip projections involving input from Carmarthenshire CC and the South Wales Trunk Roads Agency (SWTRA) to determine future traffic flows on the surrounding highway network. A specific traffic model (SATURN Model) has been used in the assessment process to reassign traffic movements to stimulate network conditions as part of the study. A verification report for which has been provided to SWTRA who have jurisdiction over the A48 trunk road.

The conclusions of the TA show that the proposed junction layouts for the proposed new access road, forming part of the proposed SES development, would operate satisfactorily on the basis of the reassigned traffic flow assessed in the SATURN model. Also, there would be no discernible change in conditions along the adjacent A48 corridor with improved operation along the A476 corridor.

Travel Plan

A Travel Plan (TP) has also been prepared for the proposed SES and access road with the objective of raising awareness amongst existing and prospective employees and visitors to the Cross Hands Business Park as to the availability and practicality of alternative modes of transport to encourage more sustainable travel patterns. In addition to the aforementioned it has sought to highlight the possibilities of: car sharring; supporting alternative logistic strategies amongst businesses; and the health benefits of walking and cycling. This is intended to serve as a strategic management tool for prospective tenants and operators of the SES, as well as a reference document for promoting the concept of more sustainable travel patterns in the existing business park.

POLICY CONSIDERATIONS

The statutory starting point for the consideration of all planning applications, as required by Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, would be of the relevant Development Plan for the area, unless any material considerations indicate otherwise.

The Carmarthenshire Unitary Development Plan (UDP) identifies, under Inset Map No. GR2 - Cross Hands, an indicative road link between Heol Park Mawr and Black Lion Road. This illustrated route in the UDP is general and for indicative purposes only, and was included in the UDP in recognition of the Council’s wider commitment to infrastructure improvements identified under the Local Transport Plan (LTP). Reference to the LTP is made in the UDP, with the relevant section of road forming part of the wider Gwendraeth Valley Link Road (GVLR), seen as one of a number of such key road infrastructure projects. Such a wider aspiration is seen as one of a number of such key road infrastructure projects which will contribute to the UDP’s sustainability objective by reducing congestion, providing access to development land and thereby create employment opportunities, and contributing to a reduction in road traffic accidents.

Policy GDC2 Overall Development Policy of the UDP seeks to ensure that all new forms of development should enhance rather than detract from the existing environment making a positive contribution. Particular regard is given to a number of criteria including, the scale, form, materials, siting and layout in relation to the character and amenity of the surrounding environment.

Policy GDC11 Access and Parking Facilities seeks a satisfactory means of access, parking and where necessary turning facilities, while policy GDC12 Generation of Traffic states that proposals which generate an unacceptable level of traffic on the surrounding road network which would reduce highway safety on the network or reduce the amenity of residents along the route will be refused. This policy is reinforced by Policy T3 which seeks to ensure that the local road network is sufficient to serve the development and that all development proposals shall be served by appropriate access provision.

Although the site lies outside of the GR3/E9 employment allocation area for Cross Hands, it does fall within part of the Planning and Development Brief (PDB) area PDB31 which is contiguous with the former. Appendix 6 of the UDP assigns the following general development potential for the site, in accordance with the aspirations of policy E16 Regeneration Sites, and reads as follows:-

PDB31 - Land at Greengrove, Cross Hands

Located adjacent to Cross Hands Business Park and the route of the proposed Gwendraeth Valley Link Road, the site of approximately 6 hectares offers potential for employment use and related activities together with appropriate measures to protect the amenity of existing residential properties.

Policy T6 New Road Schemes complements and reinforces the objectives of the LTP, as well as lists the various new road schemes. The GVLR is one of those scheduled projects and the policy seeks to safeguard land required for the delivery of those routes, and protect against proposed developments that would adversely affect their implementation.

Policy EN1 Site Protection - International Sites

In accordance with the provisions of this policy, reflecting the statutory responsibility of this council under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 as the relevant “competent authority”, proposals which would adversely affect the integrity of a European Protected site, either directly or indirectly, individually or in combination with other plans or projects will not be permitted. This Policy states that if it is appropriate to attach conditions to a grant of planning permission, or seek obligations/agreements before granting permission, to ensure positive enhancement, protection and management of the sites nature conservation interest, and to provide appropriate compensatory and mitigation measures where necessary.

This UDP Policy replicates advice contained within Regulation 48 of the Habitat Regulations 1994 ‘Assessment of implications for European site’, which reads as follows:-

Planning Policy Wales Technical Advice Note (TAN) 5 Nature Conservation and Planning also re-iterates this advice and seeks to ensure that protected species, habitats and designated sites are both protected and conserved by the planning system. In the case of this proposed development, where there is no direct on-site impact, it concentrates on those designated sites that are likely to be affected. The Caeau Mynydd Mawr Special Area of Conservation (SAC) is one such site that this proposal could impact upon.

Likewise, from a nature conservation perspective reference is drawn to Policies EN5 Protection and Enhancement of Flora and Fauna, EN6 Retention of Habitats, and EN9 Site Protection Habitats and Species of Biodiversity Concern of the UDP. These policies seek to ensure that existing flora, fauna and habitats of nature conservation importance are protected and not adversely affected by proposed development. Appropriate mitigation and compensatory measures are again advocated where necessary and appropriate.

Planning Policy Wales (PPW)

The Welsh Government acknowledges the importance of developing the new economy of Wales to boost economic growth. It is recognised that public sector intervention in the property market is often required and this has helped ensure that there is a basic network of facilities to supplement private sector provision throughout Wales.

It is a requirement of the development plan process that local planning authorities ensure sufficient land suitable for development to meet the needs of enterprise and employment is available and well served by adequate infrastructure. Such locations also need to be located where they accord with sustainability principles.

PPW Paragraph 7.2.2 states:-

In accordance with the objectives of promoting the “Green Economy” great emphasis is placed upon developing clusters of industry and commercial uses where the benefits of co-location can be optimised. In respect of which PPW Paragraph 7.4.1 states:-

The WG recognises the value placed upon supporting information in assisting local planning authorities in making informed decisions. Chapter 8 Transport to PPW emphasises this with regard to the need for supporting Transport Assessments (TA):-

Use Threshold
Business > 2,500m2 gross floor area
Industry > 5,000m2 gross floor area
Distribution and warehousing > 10,000m2 gross floor area
Hotels > 1,000m2 gross floor area

The importance of nature conservation in the development management process is also acknowledged and should not be relegated or overlooked when considering new and sometimes strategically important developments. While development plans set out the locational policy framework for conservation and enhancement of the natural heritage within the context of an integrated strategy, biodiversity and landscape considerations must be taken into account in determining individual applications and contribution to the implementation of specific projects. It is important to balance conservation objectives with the wider economic needs of local businesses and communities. On this issue PPW Paragraph 5.5.2 states

Wales Spatial Plan

On a regional level the Wales Spatial Plan (WSP) ‘People, Places, Futures’ serves to translate the Welsh Government’s policies into visions of how each part of Wales will develop economically, socially and environmentally over the twenty year lifetime of the plan.

The WSP represents a national statement of policy and forms one of a number of strategic policy documents produced by the Welsh Government. The role of the WSP is to:-

Cross Hands is identified as a Primary Key Settlement within the wider network of interdependent settlements that make up the Swansea Bay – Waterfront and Western Valleys plan area. These settlements are seen as local centres for the provision of essential services and employment which the WSP seeks to build upon as part of the areas’ regeneration. Cross Hands is seen as a prime example of such a settlement possessing all the necessary attributes for sustained growth, being convenient and well connected to the primary road network with the opportunities for enhanced linkages across the Plan Area and region. It is this strategic location at the intersection of the A48 and A476 that the plan seeks to promote and strengthen including, where necessary, measure to alleviate congestion and tackle bottlenecks within the highway network. This not only serves to optimise the effectiveness and efficiency of the highway network, but would benefit the environment through reduced journey times and lower vehicle emission, together with enhanced highway safety and reduced risk to pedestrians and cyclists.

The WSP also acknowledges the importance of the natural environment, with the coal measure grasslands of the Caeau Mynydd Mawr referred to by name. The plan requires a fine balance to be struck between the potential social and economic gains which new development can bring to the region, and the protection and enhancement of an areas’ biodiversity to the ecological benefit of the area.

THIRD PARTY REPRESENTATIONS

A considerable number of objections have been received in respect of both this full planning application, as for the parallel outline planning application for the SES. The majority of the objections carry both planning application reference numbers and are mutually inclusive in the issues raised. In order not to prejudice either party by trying to disaggregate these objections, the following represents a generic response to all the objections.

Concerns expressed over the route and alignment of the proposed new access road to existing residential properties on the Heol Derwen and Clos Pen-y-waun Estates were taken up by the applicants and agents resulting in the submission of plans showing a realigned road moved further west and away from the nearest domestic property, thereby providing a separation distance of 15.0 metres from the verge of the new road to the nearest point of the domestic boundary of the closest residential property. This is considerably greater than the suggested minimum of 5.0m suggested by one individual. Despite this, the design and geometry of the road is not compromised, and neither is there any significant adverse property take—up to compensate.

Claims that the proposed road alignment has been chosen to maximise the developable area of the site is contradictory, in that not only has the realigned road moved further west into the area of the SES, but the indicative route of the road as illustrated in the UDP follows a route further east and would result in a significantly larger SES area.

In recognition of the potential for light pollution from highway lighting and from proposed new buildings, the former would be governed by road adoption standards and would themselves seek to limit light for sustainable reasons. No details are available of lighting to individual buildings, as the proposed SES is in outline form only.

Conservation concerns expressed over the potential impact upon the ecology and nature conservation features of the site are addressed in the supplementary Habitats Regulations Assessment submitted in support of the application. Not only does the proposed new road provide an adjacent mitigation area and generous verge areas as feeding and foraging areas, but would also link up with the broad undeveloped buffer area along the northern part of the application site and extensive undeveloped areas within the application site as potential connectivity routes for the MFB. As regards specific protected and conservation sensitive species, walkover surveys of the site sought to identify those species which inhabit or migrate through the site. Where identified, mitigation is provided both for the construction and operational phases of the development. A further financial contribution is also to be secured for off-site mitigation to support the MFB, in accordance with emerging supplementary planning guidance and previously adopted procedures endorsed by CCW.

No comment can be made in respect of claims that inadequate car parking is to be provided, or that the scale of development would dwarf adjacent properties as no such details are provided or required in support of what is an outline planning application for the SES.

Claims that there is no justification or need for the SES must be considered in the context of the UDP, which not only allocates a substantial part of the application site for proposed employment purposes, but the further PDB area also carries an expectation of industrial/employment use. While the majority of the site is undeveloped, it is allocated for future development. In all other respects the proposals conform with relevant UDP policies. The absence of an adopted planning and development brief for the site is not critical to the consideration of this application, given that the proposed use(s) accords with that stated in the plan and accords with the policies of the UDP in all other respects.

The adequacy or otherwise of the EIA can be addressed by the extensive scope of the same, which represents a comprehensive and cogent document covering both the SES and proposed access road. The assessment acknowledges that such development will carry some adverse impacts, but seeks to limit and mitigate such adverse effects where possible and practical in advance of any prospective detailed application for the SES.

The construction stage of any development carries the greatest potential for adverse impacts, albeit that these would be of a temporary and relatively short-term nature. This is again acknowledged and addressed in the EIA.

Concerns over the lack of mitigation for the proposed access road must recognise that it would be impossible to mask such a major engineering project, while appropriate steps can be taken to soften its impact.

While there may be speculation as to prospective use(s) of the proposed industrial park and view that these may be antisocial. The applicants have qualified the extent and scale of different component uses of the proposed SES, with nothing to support the expressed views.

A preliminary assessment of noise and vibration associated with the development has identified potential sources of noise nuisance. A condition requiring specific assessment and scheme of noise mitigation is to be applied which will serve to secure a noise attenuation scheme for the development.

A Transport Assessment for the local highway network has found that there would be no adverse impact from the proposed development on the operational efficiency and capacity of the A48 (T) road and A476, or any other road in the immediate vicinity. The proposed new access road is predicted to reduce congestion at the A48/A476 roundabout.

The inclusion of a 2.5m wide shared footway/cycleway along one side of the proposed access road, linking Black Lion Road with Heol Parc Mawr, together with a pedestrian friendly layout and dual access for the SES, represents improved pedestrian an cycle linkages and a safer route through the area.

Contrary to the understanding of certain parties, the site does not lie within an area of any recognised landscape significance, and carries no such local or national designation.

Claims that the applications have not been appropriately publicised and neighbours adequately consulted are inaccurate. The applications were publicised by means of site notices displayed on and around the application site, as well in the local press as major development applications as well as EIA developments, in accordance with the statutory requirements.

The proposed new access road and SES will inevitably involve the removal of certain of the existing hedgerows which presently divide the site, but the precise extent of such works are not known as yet for the outline proposal. A commitment is given in the DAS that as many hedgerows as possible will be retained and managed as part of any detailed scheme, both for their ecological and aesthetic qualities, but also help maintain habitat for Dormice. The translocation of hedge banks and hedgerows will be advocated wherever practicable.

The ecological value of the site and its varied habitats and wildlife has been surveyed, documented and assessed in considerable detail. For those protected species considered to be at most potential risk from the developments, prospective license applications and “Ghost” Method Statements have been prepared in case of such eventualities.

There is no evidence to support or substantiate the implied impropriety on the part of the Planning Service in the processing and consideration of these applications which are submitted on behalf of a separate service, by a Head of Service from a different Directorate of the Council.

No Public Rights of Way will be terminated as part of either proposed developments and the route of the only registered PRoW which crosses the site will be retained and protected during the course of any prospective development, and thereafter. As to concerns raised by local horse riders over the lack of horse riding facilities as part of this development. There is no bridleway through the application sites and consequently no obligation upon the applicants to make such specific provision. The new access road will provide a highway link between Black Lion Road and Heol Parc Mawr, together with a secondary access and route through the proposed SES which will be available to horse riders to use on a shared basis with vehicular traffic.

No specific consultation with the equestrian community has taken place, however the application has been advertised with both press and site notices. Concerns of the local horse riders have been raised through the consultation process and have been considered. There is no bridal way on the site at present, so there is no obligation to retain equestrian access. Any current usage of land other than a highway or by-way open to all traffic would be informal and unauthorised, therefore the scheme is not proposed to make specific provision. The site is however permeable, and riders can use the access road the same as other road users with greater access through the site between Heol Parc Mawr and Black Lion Road.

Matters raised which are not material to the consideration of either applications include: reference to effects on property values; reference to individuals human rights; implied compensation claims against the authority; and questioning of the use of public money in promoting these applications.

CONCLUSION

The current application represents an economic imperative for new employment development, with Cross Hands identified as a key growth area within the spatial vision for Carmarthenshire.

It has been shown that the proposal for the SES, inclusive of the new access road, will achieve effective integration with the existing transport network, with priority placed upon providing convenient and attractive routes for pedestrians and cyclists. The supporting TA maintains that the site can be safely accessed and no objections have been lodged against the proposed development by the Head of Transport. The late response now received from SWTRA recommends granting conditional planning approval.

The comprehensive EIA undertaken for the application sites covers a wide scope of subject areas which have been identified as the principle issues for consideration on this site, given its present and past uses, and the surrounding constraints. The EIA has found no significant adverse environmental impacts from the proposed developments, and recommends appropriate means whereby identifies effects can be addressed or mitigated.

The statutory duty placed upon the Council as the relevant competent authority under the Habitat Regulations 2010, requires an appropriate assessment to be undertaken to ensure there is no adverse impact on the adjacent SAC and associated features. There have been detailed discussions on ecological matters relating to this and other sites in the Cross Hands area. CCW is the relevant conservation body charged with considering ecological matters, as well as advisers to the Welsh Government on nature conservation. In consideration of this application, in conjunction with outline planning application W/23782 for the SES, a sum of 300,000 has been agreed as appropriate to be paid by the developers towards off-site habitat conservation and management, in lieu of the loss of some potential MFB habitat and in recognition of the proposed creation and management of new MFB friendly habitat. This sum, along with the safeguarding of green corridor through the site, would be adequate mitigation for the loss of Marsh Fritillary foraging habitat and connectivity. There could however be alternative ways of providing mitigation as set out in the Habitat Regulations Assessment for the Local Development Plan. Any permission however would need to be subject to a formal Appropriate Assessment being prepared by the Authority and forwarded to CCW, affording them a reasonable period of time within which to comment, should they choose to do so.

On balance, giving careful consideration to the material planning considerations set out above, whilst the proposal is likely to have some negative impacts upon the existing level of amenity, the site is both a proposed employment site and strategic regeneration site, as designated in the UDP. It its entirety the potential economic opportunities in terms of new enterprise creation, expansion and employment prospects, coupled with infrastructure improvements with the construction of the associated new access road and the highway management benefits that would bring in reduced congestion and journey times, outweigh any negative impacts. Therefore, the proposal is considered to be in accordance with the above policies and is put forward for approval subject to the applicants entering into an unilateral undertaking to pay the relevant financial contribution, and the appropriate assessment for the application being ratified by CCW within a reasonable timeframe.

RECOMMENDATION – APPROVAL

CONDITIONS

1 The development hereby permitted shall be commenced before the expiration of five years from the date of this permission.

2 The development hereby permitted shall be carried out strictly in accordance with the initially submitted schedule of plans unless otherwise amended and superseded, inclusive of the provisions of any of the following conditions:

3 Prior to the commencement of development the developer shall submit to the local planning authority a Noise Impact Assessment (NIA) for both the construction and operational phases of the development based upon the actual plant and machinery to be used, and predicted traffic noise generated. No development shall then commence until either the written approval of the local planning authority has been obtain as to the conclusions and recommendations of such a NIA, and/or a detailed scheme of noise attenuation has been produced which will then be implemented in full for the construction phase, and prior to the first use of the road by vehicular traffic in respect of mitigation for the operational phase. All attenuation measures required for the operational phase of the development shall thereafter be retained and maintained in perpetuity, unless otherwise agreed to in writing by the local planning authority.

4 Operations conducted at the premises shall not produce a five minute Leq noise level which is in excess of 5db above L90 background noise level during the hours of operation (07:00 to 23:00 with no increase in background levels between 23:00 and 07:00 Monday to Friday, and Saturdays 08:00 to 14:00, with no increase in noise levels permitted outside this period and on Sundays, Bank or Public Holidays) when measured from a nearby noise sensitive property in accordance with the measurement procedure laid down in BS 4142 Method of Rating Noise in Mixed Industrial and Residential Areas.

5 No development shall be commenced until a detailed scheme for the provision of surface water drainage works has been submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority. Such an approved scheme shall then be implemented prior to the construction of any impermeable surfaces draining into the system, unless otherwise agreed in writing by the local planning authority.

6 No development approved by this permission shall be commenced until an Ecological Management Plan detailing all necessary ecological retentions, enhancements, creations and management measures for the development is submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The plan shall then be implemented as approved.

7 Prior to the commencement of development, a detailed method statement for the removal or long-term management /eradication of Japanese Knotweed on the site shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority. The method statement shall include proposed measures to prevent the spread of Japanese Knotweed during any operations such as mowing, strimming or soil movement. It shall also contain measures to ensure that any soils brought to the site are free of the seeds / root / stem of any invasive plant covered under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Development shall proceed in accordance with the approved method statement.

8 No development shall take place until details of an otter management scheme have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. These details and proposals shall include the following measures to ensure that (a) otter passage along the watercourse beneath all the road crossings shall be maintained in perpetuity and (b) otter fencing is to be provided as considered appropriate by the Local Planning Authority to prevent otters from leaving the watercourse and gaining access to the proposed road in perpetuity.

9 Prior to the commencement of development approved by this planning permission (or such other date or stage in development as may be agreed in writing with the Local Planning Authority), the following components of a scheme to deal with the risks associated with contamination of the site shall each be submitted to and approved, in writing, by the local planning authority:

10 Prior to occupation of any part of the development hereby approved, a verification report demonstrating completion of the works set out in the approved remediation strategy and the effectiveness of the remediation shall be submitted to and approved, in writing, by the local planning authority. The report shall include results of sampling and monitoring carried out in accordance with the approved verification plan to demonstrate that the site remediation criteria have been met. It shall also include any plan (a “long-term monitoring and maintenance plan”) for longer-term monitoring of pollutant linkages, maintenance and arrangements for contingency action, as identified in the verification plan, and for the reporting of this to the local planning authority.

11 Reports on monitoring, maintenance and any contingency action carried out in accordance with a long-term monitoring and maintenance plan shall be submitted to the local planning authority as set out in that plan. On completion of the monitoring programme a final report demonstrating that all long- term site remediation criteria have been met and documenting the decision to cease monitoring shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority.

12 If, during development, contamination not previously identified is found to be present at the site then no further development (unless otherwise agreed in writing with the Local Planning Authority) shall be carried out until the developer has submitted, and obtained written approval from the Local Planning Authority for, an amendment to the remediation strategy detailing how this unsuspected contamination shall be dealt with.

13 No development approved by this permission shall be commenced until a Waste Management Plan for the control, management, storage and disposal of demolition waste/excavated material has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

14 No development approved by this permission shall be commenced until a Method Statement detailing all necessary pollution prevention measures for the construction phase of the development is submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

15 Notwithstanding the details previously submitted, prior to the commencement of development a detailed landscaping scheme and management plan for the site, including boundary and forecourt treatment indicating species size and number of trees and/or shrubs to be planted shall be submitted to and specifically approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority and shall following approval of such a scheme be implemented in the first planting season following commencement of the development, or at such other time as may be specifically approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

REASONS

1 Required to be imposed pursuant to Section 91 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

2 In the interest of visual amenities.

3&4 To protect the acoustic environment of adjacent residential properties.

5 To ensure the installation of an appropriate drainage scheme and to prevent pollution of the environment.

6 To ensure the protection of wildlife and the habitat which supports it and secure opportunities for the enhancement of the nature conservation value of the site in line with national planning policy.

7 To prevent the spread of Japanese Knotweed.

8 To ensure otters are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Habitats Regulations 2010.

9 To protect the controlled waters of the underlying Secondary aquifer

10 To demonstrate that the remediation criteria relating to controlled waters have been met and (if necessary) to secure longer-term monitoring of groundwater quality. This will ensure that there are no longer remaining unacceptable risks to controlled waters following remediation of the site.

11 To ensure that longer term remediation criteria relating to controlled waters have been met. This will ensure that there are no longer remaining unacceptable risks to controlled waters following remediation of the site.

12 Given the size/complexity of the site it is considered possible that there may be unidentified areas of contamination at the site that could pose a risk to controlled waters if they are not remediated

13 To ensure sustainability principles are adopted during development

14 Prevention of pollution.

NOTES

The development hereby permitted shall be carried out strictly in accordance with the following schedule of plans received by the Local Planning Authority in respect of the application:-

Please note that this consent is specific to the plans and particulars approved as part of the application. Any departure from the approved plans will constitute unauthorised development and may be liable to enforcement action. You (or any subsequent developer) should advise the Council of any actual or proposed variations from the approved plans immediately so that you can be advised how to best resolve the matter.

In addition, any Conditions which the Council has imposed on this consent will be listed above and should be read carefully. It is your (or any subsequent developers') responsibility to ensure that the terms of all Conditions are met in full at the appropriate time (as outlined in the specific condition).

The commencement of development without firstly meeting in full the terms of any Conditions which require the submission of details prior to the commencement of development will constitute unauthorised development. This will necessitate the submission of a further application to retain the unauthorised development and may render you liable to formal enforcement action.

Further advice and guidance from the Environment Agency is contained in their letter dated the 16 February 2012, appended to this planning permission.

Failure on the part of the developer to observe the requirements of any other Conditions could result in the Council pursuing formal enforcement action in the form of a Breach of Condition Notice.

The developer is advised to contact the Authority's Highways Adoption Officer with regard to the offering of the proposed estate road for adoption by the local authority under Section 38 of the Highways Act 1980.

It is the responsibility the developer to contact the Streetworks Manager of the Local Highway Authority to apply for a Streetworks Licence under Section 184 of the Highways Act 1980 before undertaking any works on an existing Public Highway.

Any amendment or alteration of an existing public highway in connection with a new development shall be undertaken under a Section 278 Agreement of the Highways Act 1980. It is the responsibility of the developer to request the Local Highway Authority to proceed with this agreement, and the total cost of completing such an agreement shall be born by the developers.

All surface water from the development herewith approved shall be trapped and disposed of so as to ensure that it does not flow on to any part of the public highway

No surface water from the development herewith approved shall be disposed of, or connected into, existing highway surface water drains.

The applicant should be made aware of their legal duties regarding protected species of animals/bats. All British bat species are European Protected Species by virtue of their listing under Annex 1V of EC Directive 92/43/EEC (`The Habitats Directive'). This Directive has been transposed into British Law under the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations (1994). Bats are also fully protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) (as amended*). Under the Conservation Regulations (1994) it is an offence deliberately to capture or kill a wild animal of a European protected species; deliberately to disturb any such animal; or to damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of such an animal. For bats this includes roosts that are not currently being used. In the event of any evidence of bats being found further advice should be obtained from CCW (Beechwood Office, Talley Road, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire SA19 7HR) as a licence tocarry out the work may be needed from the Welsh Assembly Government.

The applicant should be made aware of the possible presence of any nesting birds using the [trees, shrubs, scrub (including bramble/gorse)] and the protection afforded to them. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) (as amended) it is an offence to kill or injure any wild bird or damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird whilst that nest is being built or is in use. The breeding bird season is generally taken to be mid-March to mid-August. As such no work should be carried out during the breeding season, unless it can be demonstrated that nesting birds are absent.

SUMMARY REASONS FOR APPROVAL

In accordance with Article 3 of the Town & Country Planning (General Development Procedure)(Wales)(Amendment) Order 2004, the council hereby certify that the proposal as hereby approved conforms with the relevant policies of the Development Plan (comprising the adopted Carmarthenshire Unitary Development Plan 2006 (UDP)) and material considerations do not indicate otherwise. The policies which refer are as follows:

Application No

W/23782

Application Type

Outline

Proposal &
Location

PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT OF INDUSTRIAL PARK, INCLUDING THE DEVELOPMENT OF BUSINESS AND INDUSTRIAL UNITS (USE CLASSES B1 AND B8), OFFICES, BUSINESS INCUBATOR UNITS, A HOTEL, A BUSINESS CENTRAL HUB, RESOURCE CENTRE, ENERGY CENTRE, CENTRAL GREEN SPACE, PARKLAND, ROADS, GATEWAY FEATURE, PEDESTRIAN AND CYCLING FACILITIES INCLUDING A GREEN LINK, LANDSCAPING, PROVISION OF FOUL AND SURFACE WATER DRAINAGE, ATTENUATION PONDS, SERVICES, UTILITIES, SITE REMEDIATION, PLUS ASSOCIATED ENGINEERING OPERATIONS. AT LAND AT THE CROSS HANDS EAST STRATEGIC EMPLOYMENT SITE (SES), ADJOINING THE CROSS HANDS BUSINESS PARK, NORTH EAST OF HEOL PARC MAWR AND TO THE SOUTH WEST OF BLACK LION ROAD, PEN Y BANC AND GREENGROVE, GORSLAS, CROSSHANDS, CARMARTHENSHIRE.

Applicant(s)

JONATHAN FEARN

Agent

JESSICA JONES

Case Officer

John Thomas

Electoral Ward

Gorslas

Date of validation

28/09/2010

CONSULTATIONS

Head of Transport - No observations received to date.

South Wales Trunk Roads Agency (SWTRA) – Recommend conditional planning permission be granted.

Head of Public Protection - No objection subject to the imposition of appropriate conditions.

Gorslas Community Council - No observations received to date.

Llandybie Community Council - Support the approval of this application.

Local Members (Gorslas and Llandybie) - County Councillors C Scourfield and S Thomas have not commented to date. County Councillors T Davies is a members of the Planning Committee and therefore has made no prior comment.

Environment Agency Wale - Has concerns over water quality in the Afon Gwili downstream of the Cross Hands Sewerage Treatment Works. Despite initial concerns in respect of water quality, the recently revised discharge consent limits for the STW has meant that the EAW no longer maintain an objection to the proposed development, subject to the imposition of appropriate conditions concerning the installation of phosphorous plant, together with other drainage and contaminated land related conditions.

Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water - Although initially not raising any objection to the proposed development. In light of the revised discharge consent levels for the Cross Hands STW and imposition of a limit on phosphorous discharge Had initial concerns over the capacity of infrastructure however it should be noted that the foul drainage is now being split between Cross Hands and Pontyberem treatment works given the fact that the site straddles two catchments.

Countryside Council for Wales - States that it is broadly in agreement with the mitigation strategy put forward in the Environmental Statement, provided the proposed mitigation and site management of the site is safeguarded, together with the payment of a contribution towards Marsh Fritillary Butterfly (MFB) habitat management in the wider area is secured.

Coal Authority – Has no objection to the proposed development in light of the submitted coal mining report.

Dyfed Archaeology – has no objection as there are no historic constraints on site.

Neighbours Public - The application has been publicised by means of the posting of site noticies in the vicinity of the application site, as well as in the local press. In total 149 separate written representations have been received, all of which object to the development bar one:

- only part of the site lies within settlement limits

- No evaluation of other employment sites in the UDP;

RELEVANT PLANNING HISTORY

The application site has been the subject of the following previous planning applications:-

S/23781 Proposed Development of the Cross Hands

Application Pending

W/19918 Industrial Development (Including Phase 1

W/02680 Single Storey Extension to Extend Kitchen

W/02321 Siting of a House or Bungalow

D4/26204 Siting of a Dwelling to replace Static

D4/26171 Touring Caravan Site

D4/24888 Change Of Use From Agricultural Land

D4/2048 Siting of Dwelling

APPRAISAL

This is an application site which Carmarthenshire County Council has an interest in as landowner and applicant

THE SITE

The application site lies immediately north east of the existing Cross Hands Business Park and extends to an area of 19.1 hectares. While much of the site is improved pasture and in agricultural use, much of the site is of poorer quality marshy grassland of little productive value. In addition to the mixed pasture and localised woody areas, central within the site is the Black Lion Caravan Site which covers a significant rectangular area within the overall site.

The surrounding land uses to the site include frontage residential development to the north along Black Lion Road, the existing Cross Hands Business Park to the south west, with scrub land and residential properties beyond to the west. The eastern extent of the site opens onto open countryside.

THE PROPOSAL

The application is submitted in outline form, with all detailed matters reserved for further consideration under any subsequent reserved matters application, and seeks to establish the principle of a “Sustainable Industrial Park” incorporating amongst other things a possible hotel, energy centre, and central/hub/resource centre. The concept has evolved from the Council’s aspirations to build upon the existing business activities at Cross Hands and expand the availability and mix of high quality industrial units to let.

Cross Hands has in the past two decades developed as a strategic employment centre, benefiting from good access links for freight and distribution, and located within easy commuting distance of Carmarthen to the West, Llanelli to the South, Llandeilo to the North, as well as Swansea to the east and the whole of the South Wales Region via the M4 motorway.

While there are no detailed plans submitted with the application there is a conceptual Master Plan provided giving an indication of the likely pattern of development within the site, supplemented by information contained in the Design and Access Statement (DAS). The latter provides a breakdown of the of the 19.1 hectares gross site area into a net development area of 10.** hectares. This is disaggregated further into the following proposed plot sizes and floor areas:-

LAND USE

PLOT AREA (Ha)

FLOORSPACE(Sqm)

Office

1.09

4900

Hotel

0.57

2555

Commercial
Incubator Units

1.28

6376

Central Hub & Services

0.23

1360

Industrial

7.09

24832

TOTAL

10.26

40023

The stated intention is to provide an appropriate mix of industrial units, offices, commercial incubator units, a hotel and a resource centre focused around a central hub facility. As can be gathered from the figures provided above, the development densities are low (35% - 45%) with the intention of creating a strong landscape framework to the site.

The application is accompanied by the following raft of supporting documentation:-

Environmental Impact Assessment

Following extensive pre-application discussions with officers and representatives of the key statutory bodies regarding both this proposal, and the parallel outline planning application (ref. W/23782) for a new industrial/business park on land to the immediate west of the new access road, it was concluded that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was required. The proposed development falls within the scope of projects described in Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 1999 by virtue of the scale and environmental sensitivity of the area. A generic EIA was then commissioned, covering the following principle topic areas:-

The assessment of these key subject matters is provided in the submitted Environmental Statement (ES) and are summarised as follows:-

Air Quality

This chapter of the ES covers the potential air quality impacts of the proposed developments during both the construction and operational phases, in accordance with the relevant air quality legislation provided for by the Air Quality Standards (Wales) Regulations 2000 and 2010. This chapter considered both the Construction Phase – with the potential for dust emissions from plant equipment and vehicle movement – and Operational Phase – potential increases in emissions from the new access road, and emissions from the proposed industrial units, offices, commercial units, hotel and resource centre. The assessment of air quality impacts was undertaken based upon a with and without development scenarios.

The baseline conditions for all potential pollutants included in the Local Air Quality Management plan, given Carmarthenshire County Council figures 2009 and 2008 shows the annual mean nitrogen dioxide concentrations well below the air quality standard. The assessment of net effect on local air quality, using the Transport Analysis Guidance (TAG) issued by the DoT, show that the likely impacts for the two principle elements of nitrogen dioxide and particulates on local receptors and ecologically designated sites would be negligible.

Cultural Heritage

This chapter of the ES covers the sub-topics of “Archaeology”, “Historic Buildings” and “Historic Landscapes”. In accordance with the methodology laid down in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) an assessment of the value of all cultural heritage assets within the study area was undertaken, followed by a measure of the “magnitude of impact” on each heritage asset. Both were then combined to determine the “significance of effect”.

Historically, the built heritage of the area is rooted in the coal mining industry with evidence of extensive extraction activity in and around the site. The prevailing land use on the site is that of agriculture, predominantly pasture, while a caravan park located centrally within the site. To the immediate south is the existing Cross Hands Business Park, while to the north along Black Lion Road stands a ribbon development of residential properties. Further residential properties stand to the far west, beyond a buffer zone of rough ground along Ty Newydd Terrace. The wider setting of the site is dominated by a gently rolling agricultural landscape of semi-improved grassland, marshy grassland and broadleaf woodland.

Site specific historic records show that coal extraction has taken place in and around Cross Hands since the end of the 18th century, only ceasing to the latter part of the last century. A cultural heritage assessment of the site identified no heritage assets with any statutory designation within the application site or immediate vicinity. Similarly, there are no historic landscape designations applicable to the site and study area. The conclusion of which being, that there would be no physical impact upon any features with statutory designations.

Ecology and Nature Conservation

Combining both the scientific study of the processes that influence the distribution and abundance of organisms and their interaction with their environment, and the maintenance of viable populations of fauna and flora and the habitats and communities to which they belong, are the basis for this chapter.

A desk top study followed by a field survey of the application site identified both those features likely to be present on the site, as well as the necessary survey work to inform the assessment. The baseline ecological surveys covered the following:

The Habitat Survey findings identified a variety of broad vegetation types including woodland (broad-leaved semi-natural); scrub; hedgerows (sixty six hedgerows surveyed); grassland (acid marshy, semi-improved, unimproved, improved); tall-herb and fern vegetation; ponds and streams. The bat survey concluded that the area was a significant foraging resource for the common pipistrelle bat, while for other species of bats detected there was little evidence of their presence. As for otter, there was no actual evidence within or through the site, or in the vicinity of the artificial pond on the caravan park, while some old evidence several hundred metres from the site was recorded.

While the habitat provided by the site was found to be suitable for water vole, none were recorded during the walk-over survey. Similar results and conclusions were drawn for badger, with no setts or badger activity recorded within the site. Habitats suitable for dormouse was confirmed, together with evidence of feeding recorded in two of the hedgerows.

The majority of the site area was considered unsuitable habitat for reptiles, while rare casual sightings of common lizard and slow worm were recorded.. Again, similar results were found for amphibians inclusive of common frog and toad, while there were no actual sightings of other species.

A total of 35 species of birds were recorded, 26 of which showed evidence of breeding, while a small number of those recorded were of high conservation concern.

For habitat assessment purposes relating to terrestrial invertebrates, a number of areas were selected for detailed sampling, principally with the intention of searching for the marsh fritillary butterfly (MFB). While the sample areas included species—rich wet grassland, bog and scrub and associated under-scrub – important habitats for invertebrates – no MFB were recorded. While species diversity was reasonably high, the recorded results were considered to be under-representative, probably due to the unseasonably high rainfall levels during survey periods.

The assessment recognises there will be some habitat loss as a result of the construction and operation of the SES and associated new access road, but also puts forward a number of mitigation measures:

In respect of proposed habitat creation/improvement, to ameliorate the effects of habitat loss, the proposal will rework an area of 1.5 hectares to create a marshy grassland habitat. Approximately 5 hectares of the application site is to be retained as green space, planted and managed with the intention of providing a vegetative habitat conducive to the MFB. Likewise, pond areas are to be enhanced as habitat for amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates. Planting along road corridors will not only provide habitats, but also retain connectivity and improve mammal access through the application site.

Landscape and Visual Impact

A landscape and visual assessment of the SES, inclusive of the identification and assessment of the impacts of the proposed development, was undertaken in accordance with the guidance given in the DMRB. The significance (or otherwise) of the impacts of development is dependant upon the sensitivity of the receptor and magnitude of change. While assessment highlights the fact that the UDP does not identify the Cross Hands area as having significant of intrinsic landscape value, there are however notable landscape features within close proximity to it. Notably, the Caeau Mynydd Mawr SAC to the south east, while there are woodland areas, green corridors and wetland habitats within the application site.

The wider area is characterised as an area of rolling hills crossed by a network of medium sized roads, dominated by the route of the A48 dual carriageway. It has a strong and distinct pattern of recent development, both linear residential growth and more consolidated industrial/business/commercial development. The peripheral areas outside of the developed areas are generally non-intensively farmed agricultural land, intersected by hedges and wooded areas. Broadly, the three landscape character areas are: Cross Hands Conurbation and Ribbon Development; Farmland Valley Slopes; and Lowland Fields and Wetland habitat. These areas a further broken down within the assessment methodology and process. The assessment makes certain assumptions based upon the indicative Masterplan for the site and mitigation measures contained therein. Such mitigation dovetail somewhat with the mitigation proposed in the foregoing Ecology and Nature Conservation Chapter. Again these encompass:-

The most immediate and pronounced visual impacts would be during the construction phase, particularly for the new access road as it would extend through largely exposed open fields with uninterrupted views to Black Lion Road. The proposed business park itself would benefit from screening from the more mature boundary vegetation along much of its perimeter, with the intention of retaining as much as possible. More detached views will be less pronounced and diminish over distance. The mitigation and residual impacts of the proposed development on surrounding properties is dependent upon the aforementioned key measures.

Land Use

This chapter considers the agricultural circumstances of the site and the proposed impact the business park and road will have on land to the north east of the Cross Hands Business Park. Under the Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) system some 60% of the application site was classified as “moderate quality” and “poor quality” agricultural land. The majority of the remaining area comprised of “non-agricultural/urban” land. Collectively, even having regard to the ALC, little agricultural use remained across the site.

An assessment of impact on land resources, given the aforementioned ALC breakdown and the fact that none of the land formed part of a commercial agricultural unit, concluded that the present agricultural use(s) of the site posed no significant constraint to the development of the site.

Noise and Vibration

The noise and vibration implications of the scheme focused on the three key stages of construction, operation, and road traffic noise. The assessment had regard to the following principle legislative and policy documents and considerations:-

An indicative assessment of noise during the construction phase was undertaken, based upon typical plant and equipment employed for earthworks activities. For the operational phase a traffic impact assessment considered the potential noise impacts from road traffic for the projected year 2030. The methodology used was that provided by the Calculation of Road Traffic Noise (CRTN) 1988 produced by the DoT.

The conclusions drawn state that while there is the potential for noise levels to exceed normal limits at noise sensitive locations closest to the proposed activities. It recommends that careful consideration be given to ensure acceptable noise levels are not exceeded at affected properties. It does not anticipated that particular phases of the construction process will be adjacent to sensitive receptors for extended periods.

In respect of the operational phase of the development, there may be minor adverse impact as a consequence of noise from fixed plant and equipment, such as air conditioning units, albeit not thought to be significant given relative separation distances from noise sensitive properties. The potential noise impact from road traffic on the other hand could be significant, and it is recommended that noise mitigation measures are employed as part of the development.

Pedestrians, Cyclists, Equestrians and Community Effects

The assessment of likely effects of the proposed development on the above category of pedestrians and others has regard to certain factors such as noise, landscape views, and air quality which are covered elsewhere in the ES. The assessment of effects was again undertaken based upon guidance provided in the DMRB. The prime criteria used to evaluate effects relates to the extent to which the proposals would prejudice or benefit existing movements by way of journey time, safety and amenity value.

Existing local travel patterns of pedestrians and others are normally based upon the location of facilities and residential areas in relation to each other and local layout of roads and paths.

Public transport links within the area include several local bus services from Cross Hands and Gorslas, as well as links to national services throughout the region and further afield. The main residential areas in the vicinity of the application site are Cross Hands to the south and west, Gorslas to the north and west, and Penygroes to the north east. The principle roads that would be intersected by the proposed development are the A48 and Back Lion Road.

As far as paths and Public Rights of Way, the assessment is qualified in that it did not consider any permissive paths. The only footpath affected was that which links Heol Parc Mawr and Black Lion Road, which would be appropriately signposted and the route fenced during any construction phase. It is proposed that the internal road network to the SES will prioritise the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. The proposed new access road will include dedicated footways and cycleway, with informal crossing points placed at key desire lines to achieve continuity of movement. The creation of a primary and secondary vehicle access point to the SES also posses the potential to divert existing bus services from the business park via the SES.

Other indirect positives of the development would be reduced congestion at the Cross Hands roundabout, with an expected increase in pedestrian and other numbers.

The major negative effect of the development would be a general increase in traffic volumes along Black Lion Road, Heol Gorsddu and Waterloo Road.

Water Quality and Drainage

The potential effects on the water environment were identified and assessed in the EIA having regard to the following legislative controls and national guidance:-

The ES recognises that although there are no main rives within the site, there are a number of minor watercourse that flow through the site together with a small number of ponds. The former being tributaries of the River Gwili while the development advice maps (DAMs) that accompany TAN 15 show that the site is not at risk from fluvial flooding.

The intended means of drainage for the site shows a dual system with separate dedicated foul and surface water sewers. The surface water run-off from the SES will be directed via the existing ponds and the attenuated and discharged to a watercourse at a restricted greenfield run-off rate. A separate, new dedicated attenuation pond to serve the access road is also proposed to the immediate east of the proposed new roundabout junction with an agreed run off rate of 20.4 l/s/ha.

All such attenuation ponds will be designed and constructed in accordance with the Sewers for Adoption document published by Dwr Cymry/Welsh Water (DCWW) and will cater for a return period of 100 years with a 20% rainfall allowance for climate change.

All foul drainage from the SES will be discharged to the public sewerage system which gravitates to the Cross Hands Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW).

Water sampling data for the River Gwili dated 2008, taken downstream of the application site and WwTW showed that for the main determinants of chemistry, biology and nitrates the results were good to low, while for phosphorous this was shown to be very high. This is believed to be linked to the effluent discharged from the WwTW, the discharge limits for which are presently in the process of being changed.

Appropriate mitigation measures have been identified and recommended both for the construction and operational phases of development, which should serve to safeguard the water environment from any pollution incidents.

Geology and Soils

This chapter provides an initial assessment of the geology and soils present at the site, together with an evaluation of the potential impact of the development on contaminants that may be present. The latter assessment has adopted the conventional source-pathway-receptor linkage model for the construction phases of the development.

The relevant legislative and regulatory documents referred to in this aspect of the assessment process were:-

The former, Environmental Protection Act and current Contaminated Land Regime relates to contaminated land and the powers available to local authorities with respect to the remediation of contaminated sites. The Town and Country Planning Act qualifies that the contaminated status of land can be a material consideration in the determination of a planning application. For the purposes of the assessment, criteria taken from the EIA Regs. were used to define the likely impacts which may arise from the development.

The past use(s) on the site have predominantly been agriculture, albeit in more recent years a caravan site has been developed off Gorslas Road which now forms a significant part of the application site. Although not now evident from a visual inspection of the site, there is a legacy of coal mining in the immediate vicinity of the site, the majority of which has now been removed and the area remediated with the development of the existing Cross Hands Business Park. It is believed, and confirmed to a degree by on site trial excavations and borehole drilling, that there are areas of made ground to the northern and central areas of the application site. The made ground is predominantly colliery spoil (sandy gravel) of varying depth up to a maximum of 2.7m adjacent to the farmyard to Penybanc Farm. Apart from a thin layer of topsoil across the remainder of the site, and a distinct area of peat to the northern part of the site, the underlying geology comprises of glacial deposits of sandy/gravelly clay above a bedrock of mudstone, siltstone, coal and sandstone. A Coal Mining Report obtained by the consulting geotechnical consultants shows that while the site is in the likely zone of influence from shallow working, it is not within the likely zone of physical influence on the surface of any present underground coal working.

The hydrology of the site is defined by the manmade drain fed lake located within the Black Lion Caravan Park, a relatively recent feature, while a series of minor drains flow through the site in a general south easterly direction. As previously established from reference to EA records, the site does not lie within an area at risk from flooding.

A conceptual site model to assess the risk of contamination on the site, given previous and ongoing uses on the site and surrounding land, identified possible short-term effects from any construction activity as being the most likely. The adoption of recognised best practice for construction sites and customary safeguards would safeguard against this. All other potential risks are of a low to moderate risk level, both on the site and in the immediate area.

Transport Assessment

The application is accompanied by a Transport Assessment (TA) prepared by Arup & Partners who are one of the Authority’s “Gateway” consultants, together with a Travel Plan prepared by the same.

The TA models the potential impact of traffic flows on the local network with and without the proposed development. This has provided an understanding of the operational conditions in the event of not only the present proposed development, but also having regard to the possible cumulative effects of other proposed developments in local network area.

A key feature of the local network is the A48 which is routed approximately 300 metres south of the application site, and performs a key role in the strategic highway network west of the M4 motorway. Its proximity is important in terms of vehicular accessibility and consequently journey times for present and prospective occupiers and customers of businesses on the Cross Hands Business Park. The business park is presently accessed off the A48 via two separate points of access, the first via a junction onto the A48/A476 roundabout, and secondly via eastbound and westbound slip roads that connect to the overbridge across the A48 and join Heol Parc Mawr. The internal road network to the park comprises a loop formed by Heol Stanllyd and Heol Park Mawr, both connected via roundabout junctions off the respective A48 access points.

Given the nature of the existing use(s) of the proposed SES there is no permeable access road through the site, while there is a single track access of Black Lion Road serving those properties on-route to Greengrove Farm, and separate private access roads to Penybanc Farm and Black Lion Caravan Park. There is limited pedestrian access through the site, provided for only via public right of way 31/75 linking Black Lion Road to Heol Parc Mawr. There is no dedicated facilities for cyclists in the business park, with cyclists having to share road space with motor vehicles. There are however a number of bus stops within the existing business park, served by a local service, while there are a further series of bus stops along Black Lion Road.

The proposed concept of a “Sustainable Industrial Park” will comprise a mix of industrial, commercial, offices and hotel uses on the site together with a resource centre. The Design & Access Statement (DAS) provides an indicative Master Plan for the SES which covers the whole 19.1 hectare site. A net developable area of 10.25 hectares quoted in the DAS has provided the consultants with a projected floor area to work by, but a breakdown of the component uses has formed the basis for projecting the associated levels of travel demand.

The vehicular access strategy shows the principle vehicular access to be via the proposed new access road to the east of the SES, with a secondary access to the south via Heol Parc Mawr and the existing business Park. The second access is to provide not only a direct connection to the existing Cross Hands Business Park, but also an alternative route of entry and access in the event of an emergency. This would also increase the level of permeability through the proposed site and potentially the provision of alternative public transport routes, as well as encourage pedestrian and cycle use and movements through the area.

The travel demand for the development is based upon trip projections involving input from Carmarthenshire CC and the South Wales Trunk Roads Agency (SWTRA) to determine future traffic flows on the surrounding highway network. A specific traffic model (SATURN Model) has been used in the assessment process to reassign traffic movements to stimulate network conditions as part of the study. A verification report for which has been provided to SWTRA who have jurisdiction over the A48 trunk road.

The conclusions of the TA show that the proposed junction layouts for the proposed new access road, forming part of the proposed SES development, would operate satisfactorily on the basis of the reassigned traffic flow assessed in the SATURN model. Also, there would be no discernible change in conditions along the adjacent A48 corridor with improved operation along the A476 corridor.

Travel Plan

A Travel Plan (TP) has also been prepared for the proposed SES and access road with the objective of raising awareness amongst existing and prospective employees and visitors to the Cross Hands Business Park as to the availability and practicality of alternative modes of transport to encourage more sustainable travel patterns. In addition to the aforementioned it has sought to highlight the possibilities of: car sharing; supporting alternative logistic strategies amongst businesses; and the health benefits of walking and cycling. This is intended to serve as a strategic management tool for prospective tenants and operators of the SES, as well as a reference document for promoting the concept of more sustainable travel patterns in the existing business park.

POLICY CONSIDERATIONS

The statutory starting point for the consideration of all planning applications, as required by Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, would be of the relevant Development Plan for the area, unless any material considerations indicate otherwise.

The Carmarthenshire Unitary Development Plan (UDP) identifies, under Inset Map No. GR2 - Cross Hands, an indicative road link between Heol Park Mawr and Black Lion Road. This illustrated route in the UDP is general and for indicative purposes only, and was included in the UDP in recognition of the Council’s wider commitment to infrastructure improvements identified under the Local Transport Plan (LTP). Reference to the LTP is made in the UDP, with the relevant section of road forming part of the wider Gwendraeth Valley Link Road (GVLR), seen as one of a number of such key road infrastructure projects. Such a wider aspiration is seen as one of a number of such key road infrastructure projects which will contribute to the UDP’s sustainability objective by reducing congestion, providing access to development land and thereby create employment opportunities, and contributing to a reduction in road traffic accidents.

Policy GDC2 Overall Development Policy of the UDP seeks to ensure that all new forms of development should enhance rather than detract from the existing environment making a positive contribution. Particular regard is given to a number of criteria including, the scale, form, materials, siting and layout in relation to the character and amenity of the surrounding environment.

Policy GDC11 Access and Parking Facilities seeks a satisfactory means of access, parking and where necessary turning facilities, while policy GDC12 Generation of Traffic states that proposals which generate an unacceptable level of traffic on the surrounding road network which would reduce highway safety on the network or reduce the amenity of residents along the route will be refused. This policy is reinforced by Policy T3 which seeks to ensure that the local road network is sufficient to serve the development and that all development proposals shall be served by appropriate access provision.

Policy E1 Employment Land Allocation identifies a number of sites with the urban growth area of Cross Hands. The key importance of Cross Hands for employment growth and expansion is linked to its strategic location within the local highway network.

Although the site lies outside of the GR3/E9 employment allocation area for Cross Hands, it does fall within part of the Planning and Development Brief (PDB) area PDB31 which is contiguous with the former. Appendix 6 of the UDP assigns the following general development potential for the site, in accordance with the aspirations of Policy E16 Regeneration Sites, and reads as follows:-

PDB31 - Land at Greengrove, Cross Hands

Located adjacent to Cross Hands Business Park and the route of the proposed Gwendraeth Valley Link Road, the site of approximately 6 hectares offers potential for employment use and related activities together with appropriate measures to protect the amenity of existing residential properties.

Policy T6 New Road Schemes complements and reinforces the objectives of the LTP, as well as lists the various new road schemes. The GVLR is one of those scheduled projects and the policy seeks to safeguard land required for the delivery of those routes, and protect against proposed developments that would adversely affect their implementation.

Policy EN1 Site Protection - International Sites

In accordance with the provisions of this policy, reflecting the statutory responsibility of this council under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 as the relevant “competent authority”, proposals which would adversely affect the integrity of a European Protected site, either directly or indirectly, individually or in combination with other plans or projects will not be permitted. This Policy states that if it is appropriate to attach conditions to a grant of planning permission, or seek obligations/agreements before granting permission, to ensure positive enhancement, protection and management of the sites nature conservation interest, and to provide appropriate compensatory and mitigation measures where necessary.

This UDP Policy replicates advice contained within Regulation 48 of the Habitat Regulations 1994 ‘Assessment of implications for European site’, which reads as follows:-

(7) This regulation does not apply in relation to a site which is—

(a) a European site by reason of regulation 8(1)(c), or

Planning Policy Wales Technical Advice Note (TAN) 5 Nature Conservation and Planning also re-iterates this advice and seeks to ensure that protected species, habitats and designated sites are both protected and conserved by the planning system. In the case of this proposed development, where there is no direct on-site impact, it concentrates on those designated sites that are likely to be affected. The Caeau Mynydd Mawr Special Area of Conservation (SAC) is one such site THat this proposal could impact upon.

Likewise, from a nature conservation perspective reference is drawn to Policies EN5 Protection and Enhancement of Flora and Fauna, EN6 Retention of Habitats, and EN9 Site Protection Habitats and Species of Biodiversity Concern of the UDP. These policies seek to ensure that existing flora, fauna and habitats of nature conservation importance are protected and not adversely affected by proposed development. Appropriate mitigation and compensatory measures are again advocated where necessary and appropriate.

Planning Policy Wales (PPW)

The Welsh Government acknowledges the importance of developing the new economy of Wales to boost economic growth. It is recognised that public sector intervention in the property market is often required and this has helped ensure that there is a basic network of facilities to supplement private sector provision throughout Wales.

It is a requirement of the development plan process that local planning authorities ensure sufficient land suitable for development to meet the needs of enterprise and employment is available and well served by adequate infrastructure. Such locations also need to be located where they accord with sustainability principles.

PPW Paragraph 7.2.2 states:-

In accordance with the objectives of promoting the “Green Economy” great emphasis is placed upon developing clusters of industry and commercial uses where the benefits of co-location can be optimised. In respect of which PPW Paragraph 7.4.1 states:-

THIRD PARTY REPRESENTATIONS

The outline planning application, and related full planning application (ref. S/23781) have attracted a large number of objections, with only one third party letter of support referring to the new access as providing the potential to ease congestion on the local highway network.

The majority of the objections carry both planning application reference numbers and are mutually inclusive in the issues raised. In order not to prejudice either party by trying to disaggregate these objections, the following represents a generic response to all the objections.

Concerns expressed over the route and alignment of the proposed new access road to existing residential properties on the Heol Derwen and Clos Pen-y-waun Estates were taken up by the applicants and agents, resulting in the submission of plans showing a realigned road moved further west and away from the nearest domestic property, thereby providing a separation distance of 15.0 metres from the verge of the new road to the nearest point of the domestic boundary of the closest residential property. This is considerably greater than the suggested minimum of 5.0m opined by one respondent. Despite this, the design and geometry of the road is not compromised, and neither is there any significant adverse property take—up to compensate.

Claims that the proposed road alignment has been chosen to maximise the developable area of the site is contradictory, in that not only has the realigned road moved further west into the area of the SES, but the indicative route of the road as illustrated in the UDP follows a route further east and would result in a significantly larger SES area.

In recognition of the potential for light pollution from highway lighting and from proposed new buildings, the former would be governed by road adoption standards and would themselves seek to limit light for sustainable reasons. No details are available of lighting to individual buildings, as the proposed SES is in outline form only.

Conservation concerns expressed over the potential impact upon the ecology and nature conservation features of the site are addressed in the supplementary Habitats Regulations Assessment submitted in support of the application. Not only does the proposed new road provide an adjacent mitigation area and generous verge areas as feeding and foraging areas, but would also link up with the broad undeveloped buffer area along the northern part of the application site and extensive undeveloped areas within the application site as potential connectivity routes for the MFB. As regards specific protected and conservation sensitive species, walkover surveys of the site sought to identify those species which inhabit or migrate through the site. Where identified, mitigation is provided both for the construction and operational phases of the development. A further financial contribution is also to be secured for off-site mitigation to support the MFB, in accordance with emerging supplementary planning guidance and previously adopted procedures endorsed by CCW.

No comment can be made in respect of claims that inadequate car parking is to be provided, or that the scale of development would dwarf adjacent properties as no such details are provided or required in support of what is an outline planning application for the SES.

Claims that there is no justification or need for the SES must be considered in the context of the UDP, which not only allocates a substantial part of the application site for proposed employment purposes, but the further PDB area also carries an expectation of industrial/employment use. While the majority of the site is undeveloped, it is allocated for future development. In all other respects the proposals conform with relevant UDP policies. The absence of an adopted planning and development brief for the site is not critical to the consideration of this application, given that the proposed use(s) accords with that stated in the plan and accords with the policies of the UDP in all other respects.

The adequacy or otherwise of the EIA can be addressed by the extensive scope of the same, which represents a comprehensive and cogent document covering both the SES and proposed access road. The assessment acknowledges that such development will carry some adverse impacts, but seeks to limit and mitigate such adverse effects where possible and practical in advance of any prospective detailed application for the SES.

The construction stage of any development carries the greatest potential for adverse impacts, albeit that these would be of a temporary and relatively short-term nature. This is again acknowledged and addressed in the EIA.

Concerns over the lack of mitigation for the proposed access road must recognise that it would be impossible to mask such a major engineering project, while appropriate steps can be taken to soften its impact.

While there may be speculation as to prospective use(s) of the proposed industrial park and view that these may be antisocial. The applicants have qualified the extent and scale of different component uses of the proposed SES, with nothing to support the expressed views.

A preliminary assessment of noise and vibration associated with the development has identified potential sources of noise nuisance. A condition requiring specific assessment and scheme of noise mitigation is to be applied which will serve to secure a noise attenuation scheme for the development.

A Transport Assessment for the local highway network has found that there would be no adverse impact from the proposed development on the operational efficiency and capacity of the A48 (T) road and A476, or any other road in the immediate vicinity. The proposed new access road is predicted to reduce congestion at the A48/A476 roundabout.

The inclusion of a 2.5m wide shared footway/cycleway along one side of the proposed access road, linking Black Lion Road with Heol Parc Mawr, together with a pedestrian friendly layout and dual access for the SES, represents improved pedestrian an cycle linkages and a safer route through the area.

Contrary to the understanding of certain parties, the site does not lie within an area of any recognised landscape significance, and carries no such local or national designation.

Claims that the applications have not been appropriately publicised and neighbours adequately consulted are inaccurate. The applications were publicised by means of site notices displayed on and around the application site, as well in the local press as major development applications as well as EIA developments, in accordance with the statutory requirements.

The proposed new access road and SES will inevitably involve the removal of certain of the existing hedgerows which presently divide the site, but the precise extent of such works are not known as yet for the outline proposal. A commitment is given in the DAS that as many hedgerows as possible will be retained and managed as part of any detailed scheme, both for their ecological and aesthetic qualities, but also help maintain habitat for Dormice. The translocation of hedge banks and hedgerows will be advocated wherever practicable.

The ecological value of the site and its varied habitats and wildlife has been surveyed, documented and assessed in considerable detail. For those protected species considered to be at most potential risk from the developments, prospective license applications and “Ghost” Method Statements have been prepared in case of such eventualities.

There is no evidence to support or substantiate the implied impropriety on the part of the Planning Service in the processing and consideration of these applications which are submitted on behalf of a separate service, by a Head of Service from a different Directorate of the Council.

No Public Rights of Way will be terminated as part of either proposed developments and the route of the only registered PRoW which crosses the site will be retained and protected during the course of any prospective development, and thereafter. As to concerns raised by local horse riders over the lack of horse riding facilities as part of this development. There is no bridleway through the application sites and consequently no obligation upon the applicants to make such specific provision. The new access road will provide a highway link between Black Lion Road and Heol Parc Mawr, together with a secondary access and route through the proposed SES which will be available to horse riders to use on a shared basis with vehicular traffic.

No specific consultation with the equestrian community has taken place, however the application has been advertised with both press and site notices. Concerns of the local horse riders have been raised through the consultation process and have been considered. There is no bridal way on the site at present, so there is no obligation to retain equestrian access. Any current usage of land other than a highway or by-way open to all traffic would be informal and unauthorised, therefore the scheme is not proposed to make specific provision. The site is however permeable, and riders can use the access road the same as other road users with greater access through the site between Heol Parc Mawr and Black Lion Road.

Matters raised which are not material to the consideration of either applications include: reference to effects on property values; reference to individuals human rights; implied compensation claims against the authority; and questioning of the use of public money in promoting these applications.

CONCLUSION

The current application represents an economic imperative for new employment development, with Cross Hands identified as a key growth area within the spatial vision for Carmarthenshire.

It has been shown that the proposal for the SES, inclusive of the new access road, will achieve effective integration with the existing transport network, with priority placed upon providing convenient and attractive routes for pedestrians and cyclists. The supporting TA maintains that the site can be safely accessed and no objections have been lodged against the proposed development by the Head of Transport. The late response now received from SWTRA recommends granting conditional planning approval.

The comprehensive EIA undertaken for the application sites covers a wide scope of subject areas which have been identified as the principle issues for consideration on this site, given its present and past uses, and the surrounding constraints. The EIA has found no significant adverse environmental impacts from the proposed developments, and recommends appropriate means whereby identifies effects can be addressed or mitigated.

The statutory duty placed upon the Council as the relevant competent authority under the Habitat Regulations 2010, requires an appropriate assessment to be undertaken to ensure there is no adverse impact on the adjacent SAC and associated features. There have been detailed discussions on ecological matters relating to this and other sites in the Cross Hands area. CCW is the relevant conservation body charged with considering ecological matters, as well as advisers to the Welsh Government on nature conservation. In consideration of this application, in conjunction with outline planning application W/23782 for the SES, a sum of 300,000 has been agreed as appropriate to be paid by the developers towards off-site habitat conservation and management, in lieu of the loss of some potential MFB habitat and in recognition of the proposed creation and management of new MFB friendly habitat. This sum, along with the safeguarding of green corridor through the site, would be adequate mitigation for the loss of Marsh Fritillary foraging habitat and connectivity. There could however be alternative ways of providing mitigation as set out in the Habitat Regulations Assessment for the Local Development Plan. Any permission however would need to be subject to a formal Appropriate Assessment being prepared by the Authority and forwarded to CCW, affording them a reasonable period of time within which to comment, should they choose to do so.

One issue which has arisen in the course of assessing the proposed SES application has been the environmental problem with the receiving waters of the River Gwili, downstream from the Cross Hands Sewage Treatment Works (STW). While there are no capacity issues with the STW the issue arises from elevated phosphorous levels in the river, believed to be caused by the high level of dissolved phosphorous present in the effluent discharged by the works. Consequently, the relevant stretch of the river is presently failing the requirements of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). From a regulatory position, and to prevent any further deterioration in water quality the EAW are in the process of issuing a variation to the Cross Hands STW discharge consent to include a total limit on phosphorous.

While it is a statutory requirement for the relevant sewerage undertaker (DCWW) to make provision within the local sewerage system for new development to connect, the exception to this rule applies where the sewerage undertaker objects at the development at the planning application stage. As DCWW are now aware of the implications placed upon them by the WFD, they have confirmed that there are no planned upgrades to the Cross Hands STW under the current Asset Management Programme (AMP 5) (2010—2015), while it has not yet been established whether any investment is planned in the next AMP 6 (2015-2020) period. Consequently, and to allow for any new development to proceed within the said STW catchment in advance of any as yet unplanned improvement works, developers will now be expected to fund such works should they seek to bring development forward in the short term. Preliminary costings for the feasibility study into such improvements are stated to be 37,594.14, while a high level cost assessment for the improvement works themselves are estimated to be in excess of 900,00.00. Such cost are prohibitive to the developer at the present time, while an appropriately worded “Grampian style” condition covering the possible developer funding of the improvement works has been drafted by the EAW and DCWW.

In recognition of this constraint and potentially significant abnormal cost, the Authority proposes to recommend an extended lifetime for this application for eight (8) years, thereby taking the practical period for implementation up to the end of the next AMP period in the year 2020.

On balance, giving careful consideration to the material planning considerations set out above, whilst the proposal is likely to have some negative impacts upon the existing level of amenity of surrounding residents the site is both a proposed employment site and strategic regeneration site, as designated in the UDP. It its entirety the potential economic opportunities in terms of new enterprise creation, expansion and employment prospects, coupled with infrastructure improvements with the construction of the associated new access road and the highway management benefits that would bring in reduced congestion and journey times, outweigh any negative impacts. Therefore, the proposal is considered to be in accordance with the above policies and is put forward for approval subject to the

applicants entering into an unilateral undertaking to pay the relevant financial contribution, and the appropriate assessment for the application being ratified by CCW within a reasonable timeframe.

RECOMMENDATION – APPROVAL

CONDITIONS

1 The permission now granted is an outline permission only, within the meaning of the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995.

2 The permission now granted relates to the land defined by the amended 1:1250 scale Application Plan – Cross Hands East SES (Outline) (Drwg No. P_001) received on 12 December 2011.

3 Application for approval of reserved matters must be made to the Local Planning Authority before the expiration of six years from the date of this permission, and the development must be commenced not later than whichever is the later of the following:-

4 Development shall not commence until detailed plans of the appearance; landscaping; layout; and scale together with means of access, have been submitted to, and received the written approval of the Local Planning Authority.

5 Details of the design, height and materials of construction of screen and boundary walls and fences shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority prior to the commencement of the development hereby permitted.

6 Cross sections throughout the site and details of the finished floor and roof levels in relation to adjacent properties and the access road shall be submitted with any subsequent reserved matters or detailed planning application.

7 Prior to the commencement of development the written approval of the Local Planning Authority shall be obtained for a scheme of parking and turning facilities within the curtilage of the site, and this shall be dedicated to serve the proposal. The approved scheme is to be fully implemented prior to any part of the development being brought into use, and thereafter shall be retained, unobstructed, in perpetuity. In particular, no part of the parking or turning facilities is to be obstructed by non-motorised vehicles.

8 Any development of a building over 1000sqm in floor area hereby approved shall be constructed to achieve a minimum BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) ‘Very Good’ standard and achieve the mandatory credits for ‘Excellent’ under issue Ene1 - Reduction of CO2 Emission in accordance with the requirements of BREEAM New Construction, Non-Domestic Buildings, Technical Manual SD5073 -1.0:2011.

9 The construction of any development over 1000sqm shall not commence until an ‘Interim Certificate’ has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority, certifying that a minimum BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) ‘Very Good’ standard and the mandatory credits for ‘Excellent’ under issue Ene1 - Reduction of CO2 Emission has been achieved for each building in accordance with the requirements of BREEAM New Construction, Non-Domestic Buildings, Technical Manual SD5073 -1.0:2011.

10 Prior to the beneficial use of development unit over 1000sqm hereby approved a ‘Final Certificate’ shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority, certifying that a minimum BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) ‘Very Good’ standard and the mandatory credits for ‘Excellent’ under issue Ene1 - Reduction of CO2 Emission has been achieved for that building in accordance with the requirements of BREEAM New Construction, Non-Domestic Buildings, Technical Manual SD5073 -1.0:2011.

11 Prior to the commencement of development the developer shall submit to the local planning authority a Noise Impact Assessment (NIA) for both the construction and operational phases of the development based upon the actual plant and machinery to be used, and predicted traffic noise generated. No development shall then commence until either the written approval of the local planning authority has been obtain as to the conclusions and recommendations of such a NIA, and/or a detailed scheme of noise attenuation has been produced which will then be implemented in full for the construction phase, and prior to the first use of the road by vehicular traffic in respect of mitigation for the operational phase . All attenuation measures required for the operational phase of the development shall thereafter be retained and maintained in perpetuity, unless otherwise agreed to in writing by the local planning authority.

12 Operations conducted at the premises shall not produce a five minute Leq noise level which is in excess of 5db above L90 background noise level during the hours of operation (07:00 to 23:00 with no increase in background levels between 23:00 and 07:00 Monday to Friday, and Saturdays 08:00 to 14:00, with no increase in noise levels permitted outside this period and on Sundays, Bank or Public Holidays) when measured from a nearby noise sensitive property in accordance with the measurement procedure laid down in BS 4142 Method of Rating Noise in Mixed Industrial and Residential Areas.

13 There shall be no beneficial use or occupation of the industrial/business park (inclusive of any administrative offices, hotel or energy centre) hereby granted planning permission until the installation and operation of improvement measures at the Cross Hands Wastewater Treatment Works in accordance with the conclusions and recommendations of a feasibility study undertaken by DCWW. The improvements shall be undertaken and completed by Dwr Cymru Welsh Water to ensure no increase in the total phosphorous levels in the discharge from the works Cross Hands WwTW entering the Afon Gwili River.

14 No development shall be commenced until a detailed scheme for the provision of surface water drainage works has been submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority. Such an approved scheme shall then be implemented prior to the construction of any impermeable surfaces draining into the system, unless otherwise agreed in writing by the local planning authority.

15 No development approved by this permission shall be commenced until an Ecological Management Plan detailing all necessary ecological retentions, enhancements, creations and management measures for the development is submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The plan shall then be implemented as approved.

16 Prior to the commencement of development, a detailed method statement for the removal or long-term management /eradication of Japanese Knotweed on the site shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority. The method statement shall include proposed measures to prevent the spread of Japanese Knotweed during any operations such as mowing, strimming or soil movement. It shall also contain measures to ensure that any soils brought to the site are free of the seeds / root / stem of any invasive plant covered under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Development shall proceed in accordance with the approved method statement.

17 No development shall commence on the application site until a scheme for the eradication of the invasive aquatic plant species fringed water lily has been submitted to the local planning authority for approval, together with a timetable for implementation. Such a scheme shall then be implemented in accordance with the approved details.

18 Prior to the commencement of development approved by this planning permission (or such other date or stage in development as may be agreed in writing with the Local Planning Authority), the following components of a scheme to deal with the risks associated with contamination of the site shall each be submitted to and approved, in writing, by the local planning authority:

(i) A preliminary risk assessment which has identified:

19 Prior to occupation of any part of the development hereby approved, a verification report demonstrating completion of the works set out in the approved remediation strategy and the effectiveness of the remediation shall be submitted to and approved, in writing, by the local planning authority. The report shall include results of sampling and monitoring carried out in accordance with the approved verification plan to demonstrate that the site remediation criteria have been met. It shall also include any plan (a “long-term monitoring and maintenance plan”) for longer-term monitoring of pollutant linkages, maintenance and arrangements for contingency action, as identified in the verification plan, and for the reporting of this to the local planning authority.

20 Reports on monitoring, maintenance and any contingency action carried out in accordance with a long-term monitoring and maintenance plan shall be submitted to the local planning authority as set out in that plan. On completion of the monitoring programme a final report demonstrating that all long- term site remediation criteria have been met and documenting the decision to cease monitoring shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority.

21 If, during development, contamination not previously identified is found to be present at the site then no further development (unless otherwise agreed in writing with the Local Planning Authority) shall be carried out until the developer has submitted, and obtained written approval from the Local Planning Authority for, an amendment to the remediation strategy detailing how this unsuspected contamination shall be dealt with.

22 No development approved by this permission shall be commenced until a Waste Management Plan for the control, management, storage and disposal of demolition waste/excavated material has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

23 No development approved by this permission shall be commenced until a Method Statement detailing all necessary pollution prevention measures for the construction phase of the development is submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

24 Notwithstanding the details previously submitted, prior to the commencement of development a detailed landscaping scheme and management plan for the site, including boundary and forecourt treatment indicating species size and number of trees and/or shrubs to be planted shall be submitted to and specifically approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority and shall following approval of such a scheme be implemented in the first planting season following commencement of the development, or at such other time as may be specifically approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

REASONS

1 Required to be imposed pursuant to Section 91 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

2 For the avoidance of doubt as to the extent of this permission.

3 The application is in outline only.

4 In order to ensure a satisfactory layout of the site and in the interest of visual amenities.

5 In the interest of visual amenities.

6 In order to ensure sufficient information to properly consider any prospective application is provided.

7 In the interest of highway safety.

8 - 10 In the interests of sustainable development.

11&12 To protect the acoustic amenity of local residents.

13 To ensure the implementation of necessary infrastructure works to protect the water environment.

14 To ensure a satisfactory form of drainage and prevent any increased flood risk elsewhere.

15 To ensure the protection of wildlife and the habitat which supports it and secure opportunities for the enhancement of the nature conservation value of the site in line with national planning policy.

16 To prevent the spread of Japanese Knotweed.

17 To prevent the spread of an invasive plant species

18 To protect the water environment from potential pollution.

19 To demonstrate that the remediation criteria relating to controlled waters have been met and (if necessary) to secure longer-term monitoring of groundwater quality. This will ensure that there are no longer remaining unacceptable risks to controlled waters following remediation of the site.

20 To ensure that longer term remediation criteria relating to controlled waters have been met. This will ensure that there are no longer remaining unacceptable risks to controlled waters following remediation of the site.

21 Given the size/complexity of the site it is considered possible that there may be unidentified areas of contamination at the site that could pose a risk to controlled waters if they are not remediated.

22 To ensure sustainability principles are adopted during development.

23 Prevention of pollution.

24 To ensure the preparation and delivery of an appropriate, detailed landscaping, planting and management scheme for the site.

SUMMARY REASONS FOR APPROVAL

In accordance with Article 3 of the Town & Country Planning (General Development Procedure)(Wales)(Amendment) Order 2004, the council hereby certify that the proposal as hereby approved conforms with the relevant policies of the Development Plan (comprising the Adopted Carmarthenshire Unitary Development Plan 2006 (UDP)) and material considerations do not indicate otherwise. The policies which refer are as follows:

NOTES

The applicant/developer is advised that the layout shown on the submitted Master Plan that accompanied the application is for indicative purposes only and does not form part of this planning permission.

It is the responsibility of the developer to contact the Streetworks Manager of the Local Highway Authority to apply for a Streetworks Licence before undertaking any works on an existing Public Highway.

All surface water shall be trapped and disposed of so as not to flow on any part of the public highway.

No surface water from any part of the development shall be connected into the existing highway surface water drains.

Further advice and guidance from the Environment Agency Wales is contained in correspondence dated 16 February 2012, a copy of which is appended to this planning permission.

Further advice and guidance from Welsh Water is contained is contained in their letter dated the 27 February 2012, a copy of which is appended to this planning permission.

Please note that this consent is specific to the plans and particulars approved as part of the application. Any departure from the approved plans will constitute unauthorised development and may be liable to enforcement action. You (or any subsequent developer) should advise the Council of any actual or proposed variations from the approved plans immediately so that you can be advised how to best resolve the matter.

In addition, any Conditions which the Council has imposed on this consent will be listed above and should be read carefully. It is your (or any subsequent developers') responsibility to ensure that the terms of all Conditions are met in full at the appropriate time (as outline in the specific condition).

The commencement of development without firstly meeting in full the terms of any Conditions which require the submission of details prior to the commencement of development will constitute unauthorised development. This will necessitate the submission of a further application to retain the unauthorised development and may render you liable to formal enforcement action.

Failure on the part of the developer to observe the requirements of any other Conditions could result in the Council pursuing formal enforcement action in the form of a Breach of Condition Notice

Where any species listed under Schedules 2 or 4 of The Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc) Regulations 1994 is present on the site in respect of which this permission is hereby granted, no works of site clearance, demolition or construction shall take place in pursuance of this permission unless a licence to disturb any such species has been granted in accordance with the aforementioned Regulation and a copy thereof has been produced to the Local Planning Authority.

All British bat species are European Protected Species by virtue of their listing under Annex IV of EC Directive 92/43/EEC ('The Habitats Directive'). This Directive has been transposed into British Law under the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations (1994) And that Under Regulation 39 of the Regulations, it is an offence to:

(c) deliberately take or destroy the eggs of such an animal; or

Bats are also protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) (as amended). This legislation makes it an offence to intentionally to kill, injure, take from the wild, possess or trade in any species of British Bat, as well as intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place which bats use for shelter or protection. It is also an offence to disturb a bat/ bats whilst they are using such a place. The Wildlife and Countryside Act disturbance offence applies to activities that cause low level disturbance which is no longer an offence under Regulation 39 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations (1994).

The building(s) on this application site may potentially be used by nesting birds. The applicant/developer should be aware that under the Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) it is an offence to kill or injure any wild bird, take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while that nest is in use or being built. The breeding bird season is generally taken to be mid-March to mid-August. As such no work should be carried out during the breeding season, unless it can be demonstrated that nesting birds are absent. It should be noted that birds may still be nesting outside this season, therefore care should be taken to ensure that no nesting birds are affected.