Eco-community plans rejected for second time

Planners have refused proposals for an eco-community in the Welsh countryside.

Pembrokeshire County Council turned down the application, near the village of Glandwr, which included nine eco-smallholdings, a community centre and minibus service open to the public.

It is the second time that Lammas, a network which supports low impact development throughout the UK, has tried and failed to secure planning permission for the scheme (see related story).

The Lammas team said they had received more than 850 letters of support and the plans had been lauded as "inspirational" by the Design Commission for Wales.

Frustrated project coordinator Paul Wimbush told edie: "I'm just really disappointed with Pembrokeshire County Council.

"We have been really bending over backwards trying to work with local government for two years and it's been a complete waste of time, really."

He accused council planners of failing to take into account the council's Low Impact Development Policy, which allows for new smallholdings in the open countryside if they make a positive environmental, social and economic contribution.

The Lammas team said the site was assessed on agricultural criteria, instead of permaculture principles.

Mr Wimbush said: "The whole point of the new policy is about creating a lifestyle from the land rather than focusing only on profit. This difference between permaculture and agriculture is crucial."

But the county council has denied the allegations. In a statement, it said: "As with the group's previous application, the Council commissioned the Agricultural Design and Advisory Service (ADAS) to provide an independent assessment of the application, specifically whether the proposals met the eight criteria in the Low Impact Development Policy.

"Having evaluated the evidence, the Committee concluded that the application failed to meet three of the criteria and determined that it should be refused."

But Mr Wimbush told edie this setback is not the end of the Lammas project.

"It's the last thing that we wanted to do but we will take it to the Welsh Assembly and we are confident that we will win," he said.

It is hoped their appeal will be heard in the spring. If it is successful, the Lammas team believes people could be living on the site by next summer.

Kate Martin



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