A MORE flexible planning system to help reinvigorate Ammanford and Carmarthen town centres is a step closer.
Carmarthenshire Council’s executive board has approved draft local development orders (LDOs) for the two towns following a public consultation.
Subject to approval by full council and the Welsh Government, the LDOs will allow businesses in a defined area to make some changes without planning permission to help stay open and increase footfall.
They will need a “certificate of conformity” and a “commencement notice approval” before changes can be made.
The orders don’t grant approval for external work, apply to listed buildings, or remove requirements for things like licensing.
Town centres and high streets were changing before the Covid pandemic as spending migrated online, and that trend has accelerated since March 2020.
A report before the executive board said: “In town centres, LDOs can help address the problem of vacant properties to achieve more viable and vibrant centres.”
Introducing the report at the executive board meeting on May 24, Cllr Mair Stephens said: “This is a way of solving issues which are happening now.”
Measures outlined in the LDOs, she said, could be incorporated in the new development plan for Carmarthenshire when it is finalised next year.
Cllr Glynog Davies said he hoped the LDO for Ammanford – his nearest town – would achieve its purpose if adopted.
Empty buildings were “very obvious”, he said.
“We really need help for the town,” said Cllr Davies.
There were 19 responses to the consultation, the majority of which backed the LDO plan.
One of the respondents said he wanted to see more provision for pop-up retailers and cafes, while another said he hoped LDOs wouldn’t just lead to more betting and charity shops.
Speaking at the meeting, council leader Emlyn Dole said of the LDO plan: “It will be of great benefit to Ammanford and Carmarthen, as it has been to Llanelli.”