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Carmarthenshire Politics West Wales

Former Lidl store in Carmarthen to become flats for people aged over 55

Inside the former Lidl store site, Priory Street, Carmarthen, where 48 flats will be built (Pic: Google Maps)

THE FORMER Lidl store in Carmarthen is to be knocked down and replaced by apartments for people aged over 55.

The 48 one-bedroom flats will be in two and three-storey blocks surrounding a split-level communal garden, and include 16 parking spaces.

Concerns about the number of spaces were raised by councillors on Carmarthenshire’s planning committee when it debated the Wales & West Housing application, with Cllr Terry Davies saying it would be a “free for all” and lead to problems.

The meeting on December 19 also heard that trenches dug at the Priory Street site, which is in a conservation area, had unearthed Roman and post-medieval walls. These will need to be excavated and recorded as part of the scheme.

A council planning officer said the height of the front and rear of the flats’ development had been reduced so that it fitted in better with the neighbouring buildings, such as the former Carmarthen Infirmary. He also said the separation distance between the development site and houses on The Parade was just over 40m.

Image looking at the Wales & West Housing apartment scheme fronting Priory Street, Carmarthen (Pic: Wales & West Housing)

There had been 16 objections from the public, plus a petition signed by 64 people which raised rights of way and traffic fears.

It emerged at the committee meeting that the Welsh Government has offered the housing association a “substantial grant” to bring forward the development, that the site would be costly to build on, and that a certain number of flats was required to make the project viable.

“What’s before you today is the best that’s achievable on the site,” said the officer.

He added that off-site parking was available nearby at St Peter’s Street car park, that there would be on-site bike parking, and that Priory Street was served by buses.

Cllrs Mansel Charles, Jean Lewis, Dorian Phillips, Denise Owen and Gareth Thomas queried the level of on-site parking, and wanted to know how emergency vehicles could access the flats. “I think there is a little bit more work to be done here,” said Cllr Phillips. Cllr Charles asked if a decision could be deferred.

The planning officer said more parking spaces could potentially be provided but that it would result in fewer flats or a smaller communal garden. “There is a balance to be struck,” he said. “This has been looked at in great detail.”

How the Wales & West Housing flats at the former Lidl site in Carmarthen, surrounding a split-level garden, would look (Pic: Wales & West Housing)

The committee was also told that the flats would accommodate older people who currently lived in council houses which were more suitable for families.

After further debate, Cllr Edward Skinner proposed that the planning department’s recommendation of approval was put to the vote, and a majority voted in favour of it. Lidl has relocated from Priory Street to a larger store at Friars Park, Carmarthen.