PLANS to redevelop Caerphilly’s bus and railway stations could be decided by the Welsh Government.
Documents show someone has asked the government to “call in” the planning application and let its inspectors decide whether it should go ahead.
Caerphilly Council wants to knock down the existing stations and replace them with a new “interchange”, where passengers will be “seamlessly” connected to various forms of public transport and “efficient and effortless journeys”, according to the plans.
But the final decision on approving the project could be taken away from the council if the Welsh Government agrees to “call in” the application.
According to the government, “call in” powers are used “very infrequently and only when a proposal raises issues of more than local importance”.
Only around five or ten of the thousands of planning applications submitted in Wales each year are usually called in, and even then that does not necessarily mean the government will refuse an application.
The identity of the person who requested the Caerphilly interchange application to be called in is unknown, but there has been considerable opposition to the project since detailed plans emerged in late 2023.
This has been both at a political and a community level. The council’s Plaid Cymru group has criticised the modern look of the proposed interchange, while a grassroots petition to save the station’s former ticket office from demolition has attracted more than 1,300 signatures.
The “call in” request was made in late November, shortly after the council applied for planning permission for the interchange project, and the latest Welsh Government documents, which list planning applications being considered, show the request is currently “under processing”.
The request will simply decide which organisation gets to approve or deny planning permission for the interchange project.
It is not a decision “on the merits of the application” itself, according to Welsh Government guidance.
“‘Calling in’ applications is generally only considered appropriate where a proposal raises planning issues of more than local importance,” the guidance adds.
Such issues can include a proposal being “in conflict” with national planning policies, having wider effects beyond the immediate area under development, or being “likely to significantly affect” sites of historic or natural importance.
“Generally, applications which do not raise planning issues of more than local importance will not be ‘called in’ for determination by the Welsh ministers,” according to the government guidance, which adds that ministers “will not ‘call in’ an application because of concerns about [a council’s] handling of it”.