Call for public enquiry Address St Athan Options Fairly

Address St Athan Options Fairly
Keeping the Defence Training College development within the St Athan site boundary (‘within the wire’) is quite feasible. But WAG’s grand plans and land purchases were based on winning both Packages 1 and 2. Once Package 2 was dropped and Package 1 scaled down to 2500 on-site trainees (max), WAG could have omitted the peripheral road and avoided developing the western green fields.

Yet the WAG planners at the ‘consultative’ exhibitions showed themselves wedded to the grander scheme and to spending an extra £10-20 million public money. They refused to consider restricting development to within the wire, using the short access at West Camp as Ann Barnaby and STAG propose (Gem letter 27 Aug.).

Under Environmental Impact Assessment law, the Vale Council planners could have required them to supply full information on this option. But Gordon Kemp’s welcome to the applications as Council Leader effectively told them to make the ride easy.

The substantial housing and road developments outside the wire are a serious departure from the existing development plan (UDP) and could be said to “significantly prejudice” the UDP by reason of scale, nature or location. WAG could therefore call it in for a public inquiry, but being developers could hardly decide this fairly.

By rights, the Vale Council might defer a decision pending the new development plan (LDP) passing through its consultation and inquiry processes. Seeing a decision is more urgent, the public are entitled to have this major departure called in for public inquiry under the Planning Inspectorate.

Certainly, one can argue “planning issues of more than local importance”, with possible “wide effects” and “substantial controversy” beyond the immediate locality and even “issues of national security”. These are all points in the official Planning Policy Wales.

There’s a challenge to people who are undecided or support the Training College in principle – would you also in fairness support the right for objectors and alternatives to be heard at a public inquiry under the planning inspectorate?

Max Wallis

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