In April 2009 the Welsh Environment Minister, Jane Davidson, rejected Western Power’s appeal following the Second Public Planning Inquiry which was held in June 2008. In effect, she refused permission for Western Power’s scheme to build 324 houses and flats on the site of Llanishen reservoir. Her decision was a little unusual in that the planning inspector who had presided over the appeal, recommended that the development should go ahead. However, the Minister disagreed with the Inspector’s conclusions and did not accept his recommendation.
Unhappy developer: they needed to challenge the minister on a matter of law, hence the impending court case. At the door of the court, as it were, WAG climbed down:
Having considered the grounds put forward by the company, and on the advice of Counsel, the Welsh Ministers accept the legal arguments put forward by the company that aspects of the assessment through which they reached their original decision were incorrect. Rather than continue the legal proceedings and go to a hearing which they consider they would not win, the Welsh Ministers have agreed not to contest the challenge.
Basically, WAG cocked up.
So now – and follow carefully: the court will send the decision back to the minister; she will notify those who took part in the original appeal and ask for any new information; she will decide whether or not to re-open the inquiry; a decision will be made, but not this year.
In the meanwhile: the minister has listed the reservoir as a building of historic importance and Cardiff Council in its Deposit Local Development Plan (previous blogs) has shown that the site is part of the protected Nant Fawr river corridor. That should made a rejection of the planning application a forgone conclusion.
But … the developers have loads of money. They must feel victorious in getting the court showdown. And the very status of the LDP has been questioned by the minister’s own planners.
As ever – pace Swalec Stadium, Bute Park Bridge, Sophia Gardens Car Parking, playing fields et al – it’s the objectors, the local people, who have to find the emotional, physical and financial resources to go through the whole fight again. And, in fighting to get the Deposit LDP returned to the drawing board, some of us may be unwittingly helping Western Power Distribution Investments Limited destroy Llanishen reservoir.