Friday, August 23, 2013
"The Minister for Housing and Regeneration has considered the issues associated with the application in the light of the Welsh Government's policy on call-in (detailed in Planning Policy Wales (Edition 5, November 2012)) and, on the information available, has concluded that it does not raise issues which warrant taking the matter away from the local planning authority. Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council has been informed that the Minister does not consider that the applications should be called-in for determination by the Welsh Ministers. It is now for the Council to determine the application as it sees fit."
Other than express disappointment that the sound arguments we put forward were not accepted there is little to add to our previous post.
Monday, July 29, 2013
2. I know that many people are keen to have a local Sainsburys and I hope you enjoy your shopping. It should have at the very least been built just on the brownfield land.
3. £5m is required to complete the infrastructure work for phase 1 and another £6m for phase 2. It is not clear to me how and who is going to fund the difference between the £2m promised and the £5m required in phase 1.
4. The company that RCT are dealing with was called Valad Developments (Llantrisant) Ltd but change their name for some inexplicable reason to Talbot Green Developments Ltd in January of this year. They state in their accounts that the land is worth about £12m and they have a £20m loan against it from the Bank of Scotland. It is very difficult to work out who ultimately owns the company as Valad was taken over the multi-national private equity company Blackstone in 2011. Blackstone could still own half or all or they could have sold it totally to the Scarborough property organisation. Either way, the land is leveraged and although the owners call themselves developers, they are actually really interested in the money, so I expect they will soon as possible realise the added value for getting the planning permission through, sell on the land and cover the debt. Who RCT will then be dealing with is anyone’s guess: all I hope is that we don’t see another film studio scenario.
5. So where do we go from here? The ‘call in’ is still with the Welsh Government minister and it is up to their discretion – there is little sign of the matter being taken seriously. We’ve asked the AM to inquire for us.
6. Finally, if you are ready to take a stand on the ground to preserve the green space and so am I. Other than that, we shall have to monitor and watch this space to see whose analysis is closest to the unfolding reality.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Friday, March 15, 2013
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Shoppers will move from the existing Tesco and the road network will not be adversely affected.
We have an LDP objective that we encourage walking and cycling instead of car use. But there is no provision for walking from the Talbot Green retail park, to the new retail park. This will be a very strange new town in which a shopper wishing to visit Marks and Spencer and Boots and Sainsbury will need to travel half a mile by car.
So we will double the amount of traffic on the road as shoppers drive between one retail park and another. The effect is chaos .
In Phase Two we will not just be shifting shoppers around the Talbot Green area. The applicant states that 40% of shoppers would previously have shopped in
The applicant states that 30% of the shoppers will travel from the south and through the
I speak in part as a
representative of the
Pontyclun has doubled in size in 1991. Pontyclun stands alongside one of South Wales most successful and rapidly growing business parks at Coed Cae Lane – which Geraint Hopkins always reminds me is in his ward. The people have Pontyclun have always supported this rapid growth.
The application is to develop two former factory sites – Purolite and Staedler. I have met no-one who does not want these sites developed for new economic activity. About a third of the development is on the green field of the Pant Marsh.
As I have developed a view on this application I have had in mind two questions:
1. Is this application consistent with the Local Development Plan?
2. What does this application do for jobs and the RCT economy?
Paragraph 4.68 of the LDP states that
“Proposals for edge of town /out of town retail developments will be assessed in accordance with guidance contained in Planning Policy Wales”
That guidance states “In deciding whether to identify sites for retail and leisure developments, local planning authorities should in the first instance consider whether there is a need for additional provision for these uses”.
The Planning Inspector who reviewed the LDP drew particular attention to this requirement.
I think there is a need for a new food based supermarket on this site. Everyone knows that Tesco at Talbot Green is over trading and that there is sufficient local demand for a second supermarket.
My problem is with the application for a new Department store and 40 other multiple stores. Let there be no doubt: this is a massive out-of-town retail park designed to draw in car based customers from across the region.
Look at the illustration in Appendix E and ask yourself if this is a town centre in any sense that anyone would recognise. Look at page 35 of the report: the Design Council is requiring you to assess whether this application is a town centre or an out-of town retail park. Look at page 97 and there is only one answer – it is a retail park, requiring car access and occupying private space which will exclude citizens who merely want a town centre experience.
The LDP requires that we ensure that such a development is in response to additional need – this means that it is responding to extra pounds being spent in shops.
Ihave spent the last year reading report after report on retailing in the
There is however something more long term happening. Most of the retail appraisals supporting this application were done in 2007 when the volume of internet sales was not even recorded. In the last year 15% of all retail sales were on the internet. By 2016 it is estimated that a quarter of all retail sales will be on the internet. This is the reason that so many firms are leaving the Retail Parks- HMV, Jessops, Comet, JJB, Clinton Cards, Game Group, Aquascutum, Blacks, Habitat – the list goes on and on. Peacocks are losing one third of their stores. Even the most successful firms like John Lewis are reducing their staff in stores and re-focussing on internet sales.
I predict that out-of town retail parks will become the derelict canals of the 21st century.. Just as the railway replaced the canal, the internet is replacing out-of-town shopping. Over the next few decades retail parks will fade into redundant lumps of derelict concrete. I believe that we are being asked to give a planning consent to an out-dated canal.
Does it matter? You might think that all the risk is with the developer and not with the local authority. But there is a risk. If we allow the expansion of this retail site in the context of a declining market, and it succeeds, it can only do so by transferring trade from existing retail centres to this one – taking trade from Talbot Green, from Tonypandy, from Pontypridd, from Tonyrefail, from Llanharan and every other town centre in the County Borough. This is the important point that is being made by the RCT Chambers of Trade and Commerce.
I must say that the officers’ report before you is far too relaxed about the effect on other centres in RCT. The report predicts that trade in Talbot Green will fall by 10% and trade in Pontypridd by 6% and then says that this is not significant. I have to ask what world are we living in? Retail margins are tiny – a further fall of 6 or 10% in trade will kill of a large proportion of the current retailers in these towns. Read the companies’ annual reports and you will not come to the same conclusion as this officer report.
The applicant claims that the development will create 1900 jobs. The applicant is clever enough to know that this cannot be true. There may be 1900 jobs on this site but as there is no increase in spending in shops every one of these jobs must come from other shops. The net increase in jobs must be zero.
You may think that taking
trade and jobs from
In fact, it is not the
I am convinced that there is a successful future for retailing in RCT, despite the inevitable switch to the internet. But this requires that we focus on our existing town centres and not on out-of-date retail parks. We support our existing town centres to focus on the sort of face-to-face services that the internet cannot provide. Our High Streets will need to change and innovate; but they can have a future. In contrast out-of town retail parks have no future.
A new supermarket needs
to be developed but currently it is in the wrong place. It is on the
I would welcome a revised application which brings the supermarket forward on to the old Purolite site, alongside the existing Leekes site. The vacant space at the back of the site should then be made available in a flexible manner as the need develops – it may be for extra retail, it might be for distribution, it might be for other economic activity.
I have become convinced that you should turn down this application in its current form. The application is contrary to our LDP because it does not meet any additional retail need and cannot therefore create any new jobs. It would not succeed on appeal.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Following the decision by RCT to support the outline planning application for the proposed New Town we have decided that our arguments have not been fully taken on board and have asked the Minister to 'call in' the application so that the wider view can be taken account of.
Here is our letter of request to the Minister that was sent today.
Pant Marsh runs along the river Clun, between Talbot Green and Pontclun, and is one of the very few natural marshlands left in Wales. It is a valuable open space, and part of what makes Pontyclun a good village to live in and to bring up children.
But at a meeting on the 28th of February, RCT planning and control committee approved the development of a new town retail centre at Talbot Green. This, despite some very sound objections raised by me and many others including your own councillors M and P Griffiths. The eventual decision was obviously a foregone conclusion, and nothing was going to impress them. Councillor after councillor spoke for the development, one councillor in particular made the comment that she and her neighbours wanted to be able to buy a fresh cauliflower at Sainsbury, hence the heading.
What I find seriously bizarre and unreal is the article in RCTs newspaper OUTLOOK, the article headed "town centre transformation" where the same people crow about the huge sums of money invested, about 11 million in all, in regenerating both Pontypridd and Aberdare, and at the same time rationalizing the reason for allowing Valad’s development to go ahead, is that it will stop money leaving the valley's to shop in Cardiff and divert it instead to Talbot Green. The thinking being that will generate wealth within the valleys.
WRONG. What impact is that going to have on both the existing Talbot Green complex, and on Pontypridd, Aberdare and all the little villages and towns in between?
RCT has spent our time and money on a "shop local” campaign to keep villages functioning, there is a blinding contradiction here, don’t you think?
Valad has no interest in our little valley, they have profits to make, but I expected more from the people I knocked doors for to get them elected.
and a bit more fizz in its pop to realize the price of a cauli is not worth risking the things that make Pontyclun worth living , as the telly tells us "because we’re worth it ".
I have resolved never to give my hard earned cash to line Valad's pockets, despite the fact that I love the cinema, I will shop local and try and get our own cinema in Pontyclun. Why not ? Cowbridge has.