A PLANNING blueprint for nearly 10,000 new homes across Carmarthenshire is reaching a milestone, and some people feel it is flying under the radar.
More than 900 sites have been put forward as locations for the new properties as part of the county’s local development plan (LDP) for 2018 to 2033.
No decisions have been taken on these “candidate sites”, and council chiefs want to hear your views on them by the end of Friday, February 8.
People can look at these sites on an online map, and feedback will help shape the revised LDP — the next step in the process.
The vast majority of the sites have been put forward for residential development.
Some, however, are for employment and tourism, while other sites have been submitted to be protected from future development.
“It’s very important to us that people have their say — we want to ensure that everyone has a fair opportunity to see what land has been put forward, which will help us assess the sites as part of the preparation of future LDP stages,” said deputy leader, councillor Mair Stephens.
Some people appear to be worried, mistakenly, that any candidate site put forward will result in development.
In reality the sites will be whittled down, and planning permission will still be required for those that are taken forward and adopted.
Other people are concerned that the LDP process has not been advertised enough.
Lauren Phillips, of Llanelli, said: “It feels as if it has been under the radar. People do want to comment, but there is not a lot of time left.
“We just need to put the word out about it.”
The thinking behind the LDP is that some areas would get more housing than others, that homes are provided where the market is buoyant, and that growth is delivered where there is sufficient infrastructure.
Neighbouring Swansea is close to having its new LDP finalised. The huge number of initial candidate sites has been reduced but significant house-building is proposed — mainly in the north-west of the county, extending towards Loughor.
Llangennch councillor Gary Jones, whose ward is immediately west of the Loughor Estuary, said he felt the wider area was becoming suburbanised.
“It’s the whole area from Llwynhendy, Bynea, Bryn, Llangennech — and on the Swansea side (of the Loughor Bridge) — because we are so close to junction 48 of the M4,” he said.
Cllr Jones said he knew people on his estate who worked in Cardiff and even Newport, while others in his patch had jobs in Swansea.
“I am not blaming people for doing this,” he said. “The houses are probably cheaper, and you’ve got the quality of life in Llangennech.
“But it seems we are becoming a suburb of Swansea. We have just not got the infrastructure or road network.”
Cllr Jones said the information about the LDP on the council’s website was good, but he felt leaflets should be put through people’s doors to help those who did not have access to a computer.
“Community and rural councils can do more, although there is a certain expense to this,” he said.
The Labour councillor conceded that housing was needed, and that contributions towards local schools and roads often came with developments.
He said: “It is a double-edged sword.”
But he urged people to express their views on the candidate sites.
“If you don’t put in your objection, it may be too late in the future,” he said.
The council has assessed eight different population trends for Carmarthenshire and reckons 9,887 new homes will be needed between 2018 and 2033.
These would be on large and small sites, and include affordable homes.
The authority is planning for 5,200 jobs to be created during the 15-year period and wants to encourage young people to stay in Carmarthenshire. Currently they are leaving the county, while there is a higher than average elderly population.
Around 186,500 people call Carmarthenshire home. The population has grown by 12,800 since 2001, although the rise tailed off after 2008.
The LDP will go through other stages before being finalised and submitted to the Welsh Government for examination. All being well it will then be adopted but not before the end of 2021.
Hard copies of the draft revised LDP are available at libraries throughout the county and at the council’s customer service centres in Carmarthen, Llanelli and Ammanford.
A council spokeswoman said ward members, and town and community councillors had also been spreading the word.
Llanelli MP Nia Griffith has been working with a group called Stop Overdeveloping Bryn and Bynea and local ward members to encourage people to submit their views.
Drop-in sessions take place at Bryn Hall on February 1 from 6.30pm to 9pm, and at Trallwm Hall on February 2 from 9.30am to 11am.
Ms Griffith said: “We can all understand why developers are attracted to this beautiful area, but we should also value green space and current residents’ quality of life and beware of all the problems that will plague us from over-development without adequate infrastructure.”