Ponthenri woodlands: A haven for local wildlife

Signs advertising woodlands for sale have become a common sight across Wales. The sites are usually sold for harvesting and replanting and it is highly unusual for them to be turned into residential development sites.

The advertisement for the sale of one such woodland has angered Cymdeithas Yr Iaith who claim that local people are not being considered as potential purchasers when the land is being advertised for auction via  London and Stoke on Trent auction houses.

The large area of mature woodlands is situated almost directly opposite Ponthenri primary School and not received planning permission to build. Despite this the plots are being offered via Zoopla with the potential for residential development.

Llanelli Online contacted Carmarthenshire County Council to establish whether or not planning permission has been granted or whether it may be considered for planning approval in the near future.

We asked:

Does the land in question have planning permission outline or otherwise?

Has the council received a planning application for the land within the last 12 months?

Does the council have any orders on the land?

Will the council be monitoring the woodlands given its environmental benefits and close location to a primary school to ensure that the trees are not cut down over a weekend or bank holiday?

Has the council been contacted by Zoopla to establish the council’s position on the land regarding planning permission?

Given that prospective purchasers are being directed to the council regarding planning will you be making a statement regarding the potential opportunity for building on this land?

County head of planning Llinos Quelch said: “Planning permission was last granted for the site in 1996 and has long lapsed. Planning was more recently refused in 2013 on the grounds of woodland and biodiversity – the site is entirely subject to a group Tree Preservation Order.

“The land lies outside settlement limits as defined by the current Local Development Plan. The site therefore is unlikely to have development potential currently under the planning policies in place.”

We contacted Cymdeithas Yr Iaith and Bethan Williams, Cymdeithas’ organiser in the area said: “Cymdeithas yr Iaith are concerned that land in Pontherni is being sold at auction in London and Stoke on Trent, because local people could be missing out on the chance to buy them. It was only by chance that we happened to see that the land was for sale. If someone was seriously considering buying land to build a house somewhere, surely they would go to a local estate agent as they know the area best.

“Two of the plots in Ponthenri were among over 300 lots of land and housing from all over the UK being sold at one auction, and auctions like these are held every month. These auctioneers must make a substantial profit selling land in parts of Wales they neither understand nor care about, to the detriment of local people.”

Llanelli Online spoke to one local resident who did not wish to be identified who said: “The road is gridlocked in the mornings and it is a dangerous junction to get out from. I have seen the plans and the access road is almost opposite the school. The number of cars for 47 homes will have a huge impact on air quality around the school if they are all queueing along the road. There is also a lot of wildlife in the woodlands including badgers. I hope it doesn’t go ahead.”

Proposed development: The mature woodlands at Ponthenri

 

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