PLANNING permission for the £200 million Llanelli Wellness and Life Science Village has been granted after the Welsh Government decided not to call in the application.
Carmarthenshire Council’s planning committee had unanimously approved the scheme in January, but it had to be referred to Cardiff Bay.
In a letter seen by the Local Democracy Service, the Welsh Government told the council on July 8 that it had considered a number of issues but that the application did not raise “novel planning issues”, and that “it is now for your authority to determine the application as it sees fit”.
The council-led scheme is the second biggest of the 11 city deal projects being taken forward in the Swansea Bay City Region.
The Welsh Government’s decision has been welcomed by Carmarthenshire’s Labour opposition group.
Group leader, Councillor Rob James, said: “We are extremely pleased that the stop notice for the city deal project has been lifted after our discussions with the Welsh Government.”
Built over five years, the wellness project at Delta Lakes will deliver a new leisure centre and swimming pool, a community health hub featuring healthcare facilities and business development space, a life science centre for research and business expansion, a range of assisted living accommodation, sports facilities, and an upgraded lakeside landscape.
The planning committee’s approval had also been subject to environment body Natural Resources Wales (NRW) signing off further flood modelling assessments.
Cllr James said it was now a priority to get the business case for the project signed off by the UK and Welsh Governments.
Doing so will release some of the £40 million central Government contribution to the wellness village.
It is expected that the private sector will cover the lion’s share of the cost (£127 million), according to the heads of terms of the £1.3 billion city deal, with the council also paying a share.
The wellness village has had its problems after the suspension of Swansea University employees said to be linked to the project and the council’s decision to terminate a collaboration agreement with a private sector development partner.
Cllr James and Plaid Cymru council leader Emlyn Dole have exchanged sharp words over the scheme in recent months.
The council is looking into different ways of delivering the project, with Cllr Dole adamant it will be completed on time.
In May, outgoing council chief executive Mark James said the authority could deliver the wellness and life science village independently because the repayments on borrowing would not be too onerous.
“I see no reason why we could not do this,” Mr James said at the time. “We have done much bigger things ourselves.”
In a statement issued on July 8, Cllr Rob James said Labour councillors had lobbied the Welsh Government to prevent a call-in.
Glanymor Labour ward councillor, John Prosser, said: “We have always supported this project and it’s important we get it, as we will never again have this opportunity to transform this area.”
The Plaid Cymru-Independent administration has been approached for comment.