TOWN councillors in Pontarddulais have alleged that Swansea Council is allowing large-scale housing developments without assessing their impact on roads as it should – but the council said this was not true.
The town council outlined its concerns about the local development plan (LDP) – an over-arching blueprint identifying land for residential and other uses – in a press release.
The LDP sets out a requirement for 15,600 new homes between 2010 and 2025 – several in so-called strategic development sites in the north of the county. It took years to draw up and only came into force after being examined by Planning Inspectorate Wales.
The county council said the examination led to a number of amendments before the inspectorate judged the LDP was “sound”.
Pontarddulais Town Council claimed one of the changes sought to ensure that developments resulting in unacceptable increases in key journey times would not be permitted. It claimed key journey times were trips by car or bus from the centre of a community to key destinations such as hospitals, schools, or the M4, all at peak times of the day, and that these shouldn’t be six minutes or longer than previously as a result of a development.
The town council said it has asked Swansea Council to reassess planning approvals for large-scale housing schemes under the new LDP.
“The inescapable consequence for us is that unacceptable increases in key journey times on the roads are going to occur,” it said.
The town council said a resident has written to the Public Services Ombudsman, Nick Bennett, asking him to investigate.
Swansea Council said it didn’t know what the basis of the town council’s six-minute claim was, and said large-scale developments were assessed in terms of their potential transport impact, including levels of anticipated traffic.
A site off Glanffrwd Road, Pontarddulais, has been earmarked for 486 new homes under the LDP – with the potential for more after the LDP expires in 2025. Persimmon Homes want to build 525 houses there.
In a statement, Swansea Council said:
“Claims that the council is ignoring any recommendations or changes made by the planning inspector during the development of the LDP are not true.
“The LDP underwent significant review by inspectors, where all amendments to the draft plan were made prior to the inspectors concluding our plan was sound.
“Our plan features a number of strategic development sites, all of which, when going through the planning process are subject to thorough transport assessments to look at the impact on traffic flows and future levels of traffic.”
“The LDP is also subject to regular reviews by planning officers to look at the effectiveness of the policies and strategies within it. We have recently published our annual report on the LDP which the public can also view online.”
Asked if binding changes to the LDP had been made about key journey times, and if so how these would be defined, a spokeswoman for Planning Inspectorate Wales said:
“There is a legal responsibility for planning applications to be determined in accordance with the LDP, including any binding changes made.”