- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
As the Welsh Government prepares to publish its Planning Bill, Joyce Watson AM has asked housing minister Carl Sargeant to “consider the lessons” of two high-profile campaigns to save “village greens” in mid and west Wales.
On Tuesday (29 April) residents of Maes-y-Deri in Talybont, Ceredigion, secured village green status for their playing field. Housing association Tai Ceredigion had been granted permission to build four houses on land at the 60-house estate. The decision was overturned after a public inquiry.
Earlier this month a High Court ruling halted proceedings to save eight acres of fields in Brecon from future development.
At the Assembly on Wednesday (30 April), Labour Mid and West AM Joyce Watson argued that in both cases local people had time to gather evidence and organise opposition. She said:
“Minister, earlier this afternoon, your colleague the Minister for Natural Resources and Food fielded a question about village greens. There have been a number of high-profile cases in my region recently where residents have applied for village-green status to block a development. There was a successful one in Talybont in Ceredigion, and a high court injunction has halted a process in Brecon.
“My question to you is whether you will consider the lessons and the outcomes of these cases before you publish the final Bill. In each case, local people had time to gather evidence and present their opposition after learning of the proposed development.”
The minister responded saying he did not want village greens to become a block on developments:
“I thank the Member for her question. I did listen very carefully to the questions to Alun Davies too. The issue for me is making sure that we have a planning system fit for purpose for the future, and we have to take this forward through the local development plan, making sure that we have land allocated for development. What I do not want to see is village greens become the answer to blocking developments. If it is right to have a village green, there should be a process whereby we are able to protect them in their status. However, they should not be used as a means of blocking development from moving forward.”
The Welsh Government published its draft Planning (Wales) Bill in December 2013. The consultation closed on 26 February 2014. The final Bill is likely to be introduced to the National Assembly for Wales in the autumn.
The Open Spaces Society, which campaigns for the protection of green spaces, criticised proposals in the draft Bill to prohibit the registration of land as a town or village green where it has been identified for development. The group argues that people will not be aware that land is earmarked for development until it is too late to save it.
Instead, the organisation suggests that before allocating land for development, planning authorities should be satisfied that the land is not capable of being registered as a green. If the land is eligible for registration, the authority should allow local people sufficient time to gather evidence and submit an application.