A Plaid Cymru MS has called for residents to be empowered when it comes to objecting to planning applications.
Delyth Jewell, who represents the South Wales East region, used the example of the controversial planning application to build 260 homes in Hendredenny.
During Senedd questions to the Climate Change Minister, Delyth said the application caused frustration in the local community after it was given the green light on appeal to the Welsh Government despite being met with overwhelming opposition locally.
Speaking this afternoon, Delyth said: “Minister, in 2017, the Welsh Government overturned Caerphilly council’s decision to reject an application to build 260 homes in Hendredenny.
“The application was opposed by residents, ward representatives, the local MS and MP, yet the Welsh Government overruled the local consensus.
“In the decision letter, the Minister at the time recommended a condition that the plan should include strategic drainage features and a scheme for disposal of service water and land drainage flows, placing responsibility for approving the plans on the council.
“But six years later, we have NRW investigating reports of water run-off polluting a local resident’s land, with fears this may have also affected a nearby river, Nant yr Aber.
“In addition, fears about traffic chaos have been realised, and concerns about the ability of local services to cater for hundreds of new residents continue.”
She also asked the Minister to consider the changes that “could be made to the planning system to give communities the power to make decisions that affect them without fears of being overruled by Cardiff?”
In response, Minister Julie James replied that she understood those “frustrations” and that efforts were being made to ensure that local communities are engaged at an early stage in the formation of Local Development Plans.
Afterwards, Delyth’s Senedd colleague Peredur Owen Griffiths MS said: “Delyth is right to raise this matter in the Senedd because we have seen numerous planning applications refused by local authorities after staunch local opposition only for them to be granted later on appeal by Welsh Government.
“This leads to anger, bewilderment and a loss of faith in the democratic process.
“This is not a healthy situation so I hope the Labour Government is seriously considering ways in which communities can be empowered to oppose planning applications; especially those that they know will be detrimental in the long run due to their superior local knowledge.”
Plaid Cymru Councillor Steve Skivens said: “This is only one of many problem sites in CCBC area, but there is a pattern emerging. Environmental issues, residents and representative’s worry or concern and the benefit to the existing community and impacts on future generations appear secondary to mass house building and other developments by the Labour administration.
“It feels like a failure of democracy in our area and skips over Planning Policies created by Welsh Government.”
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