SUPPORT seems to be growing for a new historical attraction in Kidwelly, but opponents feel there has been a lack of consultation and scrutiny.
A group called the History Shed Experience wants to relocate from Laugharne to Kidwelly and build a museum, small replica cottages from days gone by, open-air theatre space and pole barn area on land by Glan-Yr-Afon car park, off Bridge Street.
Carmarthenshire Council planning officers are assessing an application for the scheme which was submitted by Kidwelly Town Council, and scores of people have registered their support, saying it would be a much-needed boost for the town.
But objectors are loathe to see the recreational land developed, and feel other sites would be more appropriate.
One of them, Peter Collett, claimed the History Shed Experience was initially offered a site next to the Princess Gwenllian Centre, off Hillfield Villas, by the town council.
Mr Collett claimed the site was rebuffed because it wasn’t close enough to Kidwelly Castle, and that in March 2019 the land by Glan-Yr-Afon car park was offered instead.
Mr Collett said a public event took place two months later in which the town council outlined possible future options for the land by Glan-Yr-Afon car park and also the quay area.
“Questions were asked about this particular project,” said Mr Collett, referring to the History Shed Experience.
But he alleged that an officer said there were certain things that couldn’t be discussed – and that councillors didn’t venture any information on the subject.
“They should have brought it up,” said Mr Collett, of Water Street. “It sticks in my craw.”
Mr Collett said the History Shed Experience presented its proposals at an event in Kidwelly in September 2019.
In his view, the decision to use the Glan-Yr-Afon site had already been made.
“The land is an amazing space for picnics and chilling out,” said Mr Collett. “It has been a life-saver for many of us during Covid. I walk my dogs there three times a day.”
Mr Collett said a second public event took place in February 2020. Questions, he said, included who was going to pay for the planning application process, to which the answer – he claimed – was the History Shed Experience.
Mr Collett also wondered how many new jobs the scheme would create.
He said he felt the Gwenllian Centre site, land at the former industrial museum, or a site at the quay, would be more appropriate.
Mr Collett acknowledged there was a lot of support for the proposal, but he also said there was opposition.
“I’m not alone on this,” he said.
Another objector, Denise Phillips, said she had no problem with the History Shed Experience relocating to Kidwelly but also felt other sites were better suited.
Mrs Phillips said she felt the Glan-Yr-Afon site was presented as a “fait accompli” at the February 2020 meeting, and that those questioning it were “ridiculed” by other people there.
She said: “Everybody who stood up to raise an objection was booed and shouted down.”
She added: “A lot of people have concerns about that location.”
Mrs Phillips, of Ferry Road, said she was worried about the potential impact of evening events at the History Shed Experience development, if planning permission was approved.
She has objected in writing, and said others contacted here who were afraid to do it themselves.
The planning application has prompted nearly 300 public comments to date, with the vast majority in support.
Water Street resident Heather Davies said: “Fully support this amazing venture ‐ would be beneficial to the community and tourists to our beautiful town.”
The Local Democracy Reporter Service put the claims and concerns made by Mr Collett and Mrs Phillips to the town council and the History Shed Experience.
The History Shed Experience did not respond at the time of going to press.
Town council estates manager Mark Stephens said it had nothing to add from his initial comments, which were included in a previous story about the project.
The comments included that the town council had looked at different proposals and then narrowed it down to the Glan-Yr-Afon site as it had a car park, was close to the castle and on the outskirts of town.
His comments also included that all town councillors backed the Glan-Yr-Afon option.
Planning documents said the project’s design team decreased the museum building’s profile and moved it to the rear of the site, where it would be screened from direct view, in response to public concerns.