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Welsh Government issues holding direction for housing plan at former maternity hospital site

The former Amman Valley Maternity Hospital, Glanaman, which a developer planned to knock down to help make way for 28 new houses. The application has been turned down. (Pic: Marion Phillips/Creative Commons)

THE WELSH Government is casting its eye over controversial plans to demolish a former hospital in Carmarthenshire to make way for housing.

Cardiff Bay planning officials have issued a direction to Carmarthenshire Council preventing it from granting planning permission for the proposed development at the old Amman Valley Maternity Hospital, Glanamman, which closed nearly 40 years ago.

The direction does not prevent the authority from continuing to process the application or prevent it from turning it down. It’ll remain in force until Welsh ministers decide whether or not to formally call in the application.

A company called Thomas Brothers Ltd, of Ammanford, wants to demolish the hospital and two houses – for access purposes – on Tirycoed Road, and build 25 homes including two bungalows.

Tirycoed Road, Glanamman, which could provide access to and from new homes at the former Amman Valley Maternity Hospital site (Pic: Richard Youle)

Thomas Brothers Ltd owns the land and tried to gain planning consent for a 28-home scheme three years ago in the face of stiff opposition locally. Carmarthenshire Council rejected the application on ecology, landscape feature, highway and air quality grounds.

Previous housing proposals for the site were also refused in 2014 and 2016.

The new application aims to retain “key ecological features” and “buffer zones”, according to a design and access statement submitted on behalf of the company, which is why the number of proposed homes has reduced by three. The document said access and highway concerns had been been addressed, and that the planned development was considered to be acceptable in terms of air quality.

It also said a bat house would be built, and recommended that apple trees and two hedgerows were planted. A requirement regarding affordable housing, open space and/or an education contribution would, added the document, be considered in a financial viability appraisal.

Many Glanamman residents have objected to the new plan, including John Studley, the secretary of a campaign group opposing it. Dr Studley said the group had 50 members and represented nearly 700 objectors.

Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards said in an email to the council that people had contacted him about the application.

Referring to the former maternity hospital, he said: “The community are very much aware that something needs to be done about the derelict building but (feel) that it should be for community use and not housing. Constituents feel that it is an ideal location for a community well-being and conservation centre.”

Cwmaman Community Council has objected to the application, as has ward councillor for the area, Emyr Rees.

The Welsh Government said all call-in requests were considered on their own merits, and that it was rare for an application to be formally called in. Examples which might persuade it to do so include, among other things, applications which could have wide effects beyond their immediate vicinity, or were likely to significantly affect sites of scientific, nature conservation or historic interest, or areas of landscape importance.