Bridgend LDP Inspector’s Report

(Pic: Barrett Homes)

Over the last few months, a series of hearings were held by the planning inspector appointed by the Welsh Government in order to finalise Bridgend’s Local Development Plan, which will outline land use in the county until 2021.

Late last month, the planning inspector’s report was released by Bridgend Council, and is available here (pdf).

Most of the changes relate to wording within the report, as well as some modest changes to the proposals map as a result of the recommendations. The vast bulk of the changes aren’t worth covering in detail, but there were also more substantial changes outlined by the inspector.

Recommended changes from the Deposit LDP

Housing

  • An alternative site at Llangewydd Road, Cefn Glas has been included for housing development. (228 dwellings)
  • Reduced housing allocation at Porthcawl Waterfront from 1,350 to 1,050.
  • Increased housing allocations at (not a conclusive list):
    • Parc Derwen (+15)
    • Waterton Lane, Bridgend (+48)
    • North East Brackla/Brackla Industrial Estate (+200)
    • Parc Afon Ewenni (+100)
    • Maesteg Road, Tondu (+102)
    • Coronation Works, Evanstown (+11)
    • Y Parc, Maesteg (+31)

Employment & Economic Development
  • The total amount of vacant employment land has been reduced to 120 hectares, but it’s said even this would result in a “generous surplus”.
  • Land for employment use at Waterton has been reduced by more than half.
  • Land at Ty Draw Farm for employment use has been reduced by two thirds.
  • Development of Island Farm is said to be “uncertain”, with a lack of evidence that the scheme is “deliverable”. However, no changes are outlined, while proposals to adopt a “more flexible (development) policy” there have been dismissed.
  • It’s said there were “deficiencies” in the CACI retail needs report, and Bridgend town centre’s retail needs might have been under-stated. However, the inspector believes there’s little need for an additional supermarket in Bridgend itself (mooted for the Police HQ), especially with the plans in Porthcawl.

Transport
  • It’s made clear that there are no plans for a park and ride site on Cefn Hirgoed Common near J36 of the M4, instead there’ll be “park and share” lay-bys, with a similar scheme mooted for J35 in Pencoed too.
  • It appears as if the Garw Valley railway corridor has been protected from development, and there are proposals for a heritage railway there.

Environment & Minerals
  • There were disputes between the council and industry over aggregates reserves in the county, in part to cover a projected shortfall in the Vale of Glamorgan. The inspector recommends that the passages in question be changed to be “more general” so it doesn’t pre-judge the VoG’s own LDP.
  • The policy relating to gas extraction should be modified to include all forms of gas, not just coal bed methane. There’s currently a “fracking” test-drill site proposed on the outskirts of Merthyr Mawr, as well as one in the Maesteg area.
  • Policies relating to coal mining – BCBC’s general presumption that coal extraction is “unacceptable” – and in relation to the (controversial) MTAN 2, were said to be “vague or ill-defined”.
  • The inspector proposed amendments to precisely where wind-farm developments can be located, after the submitted proposals were dubbed “incoherent” as the wording both allowed and prevented developments outside a “Specific Search Area”.

Overview

Island Farm is beginning to worry me. I still support the principle of the “sports village”, but seeing as there’s no likely tenant for the main stadium, Bridgend Ravens seem quite happy at the Brewery Field and Penybont FC have set up a permanent-looking home in Bryntirion, the chances of this development coming to be are receding.

Although the inspector implies the Island Farm plans should remain as they are, I think the proposals will have to change to make it viable – probably dropping the main stadium or reducing the overall size of the development. But if it changes to include housing, a lot of goodwill HD Ltd received when they put the proposals forward will evaporate.

On housing in general, like elsewhere in Wales, Bridgend has increased its housing allocations. I think it was sensible to reduce the numbers of houses planned in the Porthcawl regeneration area, as those levels of development (in the current economic climate) are optimistic. I still think the figure’s too high, to be honest. I don’t see where all these extra residents are coming from, I don’t see how they’re going to get built in the timescales put forward, and I don’t see the likes of Parc Afon Ewenni getting developed any time soon. Parc Derwen’s taking long enough.

In the end it looks as though there haven’t been any major issues with Bridgend’s LDP, and it’s likely to be adopted by Bridgend Council later this year – thus coming into legal effect.

Owen