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Guilsfield development needed public consultation

Created on 03/10/2020 @ 09:29
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The decision to approve a controversial development in the heart of Guilsfield has irked the head of the community council, who said there should have been a public consultation.

A plan to build nine homes on the former Fairview Garage site (pictured), which has laid derelict for years, was approved by Powys County Council planners on Thursday, but the community council said it was only informed that the proposal was being discussed on the previous evening.

Chairman, Cllr Ian Harrison, said that they had discussed the proposal when it was first tabled in March during the first week of lockdown. The council, he said, was told by Powys that due to its sensitivity among the local population, it would be postponed until normality had returned.

However, MyWelshpool understands that a change in personnel at Powys could have resulted in the message slipping through the cracks with the local council shocked to be told that the decision would be made without public opinion being factored into the process.

He has labelled the process as “shambolic”, but Powys has responded to say the council, and residents, were given plenty of time to make their opinions known.

“The decision to approve the Fairview Garage planning application yesterday in the absence of a full consultation process with local residents is very disappointing,” said Cllr Harrison.

“Our two public meeting halls remain closed and are likely to remain so well into next year. There were two public consultations held last year regarding large land development proposals in the village, and we had hoped to hold another one for this.

“This decision, however, reflects the shambolic nature of the current Powys Planning Process. “Having announced in March that only planning applications lodged before March 20 would be considered during the Emergency Period, it would appear that they proceeded with this application anyway even though it was lodged after their deadline.

“We had requested a delay to the application so that we could properly consult with residents when a public meeting could be called, but it would seem our request was ignored.

“We were not advised of the resumption of the planning process or the planning committee meeting until the evening before the decision.

“Local residents will rightly feel angry about the way in which their opinions could not be properly sought in public and I, for one, am very sorry that their voices could not be heard.”

Guilsfield County Councillor David Jones had tabled his objection to the plan in its current form, saying that he back developments but on the scale proposed. However, his objection was ignored but the council did make a note of it and said more discussions could take place with the developer.

In response to Cllr Harrison’s claims, a spokesperson for Powys County Council said: “The outline planning application was received on March 5, 2020, and validated on March 27, 2020.

“At the same time it was published on the council’s website and comments were invited from all statutory and non-statutory consultees, including the community council.

“The application was considered and determined by the county council’s on-line Planning Committee on October 1, 2020.

“The committee took into account the concerns raised regarding the density of the proposed development but on balance agreed to approve the outline planning application. Further consultation will be undertaken on any subsequent reserved matters planning application(s) that the council receives.”

In the meantime, it is thought that Guilsfield Community Council are considering what legal options may be available.

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