Laugharne homes plan worries over lack of local benefits

Laugharne rugby and cricket field
Image caption Laugharne's rugby and cricket teams play on the town's sports field

Residents in a Carmarthenshire town have raised concerns over plans to build new houses without any community benefits.

Paul and Bethan Thomas' original plan was to build 42 homes next to Laugharne's sports field with an agreement to provide benefits for local organisations.

But those benefits have been dropped because planning rules have changed.

More than 300 people have now signed a petition objecting to the latest plans.

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Media captionJohn Bradshaw said the change to the plans has been a "big shock" locally

Under the previous plan, it was mutually agreed that:

  • land would be given to build a footpath to nearby Broadway
  • Laugharne Athletic Club would take over freehold ownership of the rugby and cricket fields
  • a piece of land would be transferred by the athletic club to Laugharne Primary School
  • Laugharne Corporation would be given an adjacent woodland

But the planning permission granted in 2008 which included those benefits lapsed in 2013.

Architect Owen Luder, planning advisor to Laugharne Athletic Club, said there was "total agreement" over the previous application but there was strong opposition to the new plan as it offered none of the benefits agreed in the previous scheme.

"It would be a political and social scandal if the council approved this without the community benefits," he said.

Image caption Laugharne rugby club play in Welsh League Division Three West

Glyndwr Jenkins, chairman of Laugharne rugby club, said the dispute meant the club could not develop its facilities, including 1960s changing rooms, as it had not been granted a lease to use the ground.

Mr Jenkins said the athletic club, which includes the town's rugby and cricket teams, were in a state of "limbo".

John Bradshaw, Portreeve of Laugharne and a Laugharne Primary School governor, said the original agreement would have seen the school take ownership of part of the field to expand its facilities.

He said: "Every organisation I'm involved with locally were totally shocked. We thought if it went ahead we'd get the benefit out of it but that's all been taken away. People are very, very concerned."

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Media captionGlyndwr Jenkins said the athletic club was in "limbo"

Carmarthenshire council's head of planning, Llinos Quelch, said as the site was now allocated in the council's local development plan, it was unable to request the same level of benefits as previously secured.

She said: "The current application site does not directly impact upon the playing fields. The benefits being asked for locally seek to rectify a landownership issue not directly related to the development."

She added an agreement on contributions towards providing affordable housing, education and highways improvements would be discussed in due course.

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