UKIP’s Neil Hamilton was in Laugharne today, Monday (Aug 14) to meet with a group of people who are campaigning to retain the community benefits associated with an historic planning application relating to land used by the community for recreational activities, including the rugby and cricket teams. The land issue threatens to boil over into a  row between a local land owner and the main local organisations using the  playing field.

Mr Hamilton listened to the views of representatives from the Laugharne Athletic Club, the Town Mayor Iris John and Portreeve John Bradshaw as well as expert observations from the renowned architect Owen Luder CBE at a meeting held in the conference suite at Brown’s Hotel.

The main issue surrounds concerns, which have been raised regarding a contract agreed between parties in a former planning application, which do not appear to have been carried over to a new application for 42 homes on land adjacent to the local rugby field.

The conditions allegedly agreed upon by the landowner at the time and local representatives was apparently crucial in the first planning application being agreed upon. The land was approved for housing under the former Unitary Development Plan (UDP), which has now been replaced by the Local Development Plan (LDP).

The application has yet to be placed before Carmarthenshire County Council who are faced with the choice of approving the plan minus the conditions or to include the conditions in the new application. As each planning application is based upon its own merits ultimately it may come down to a legal argument, which may have to be settled via a judicial review if neither side gives way.

Neil Hamilton has pledged his support to the community at the meeting and told Llanelli Online: “Planning issues are very often a legal minefield and the County Council is wary of putting itself in a position where it refuses planning permission or imposes conditions which may be contested by way of an appeal or an application for a judicial review. The moral case here is quite clear. This is an patch of land, which is worth X as a piece of agricultural land or X plus many millions of pounds if developed for housing. That is the nub of the issue here. The original zoning of this land for housing occurred only because the developer proposed that there would be some significant public benefits including the land which is currently used for sports facilities in Laugharne. He now wants to have his cake and eat it by getting the planning permission but without the benefits for the sports clubs. What we have to try to get the County Council to understand is that this land would not now be considered for development but for the original planning decision, which was agreed between all parties including the town council, the developer, the County Council and other interested parties in Laugharne. The morality of this is quite clear. The developer should be as good as his word on the agreement that they entered into in the first place. He is not taking that view. The question now is whether there is a legal means of enforcing the original agreement and whether the council has in law a right to impose that condition upon the developer which last time he consented to. I am going to do my best to ensure that the people of Laugharne get the public benefits, which they deserve in exchange for the landowner getting a huge amount of money being put into the bank.”

Llanelli Online attempted to contact the landowner without success.

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