A “DOOMED POOR QUALITY” scheme for a replacement petrol station and store in Crymych have been “reluctantly” turned down by planners, despite an impassioned plea by a local councillor.
At the January 9 meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee members were recommended to refuse an application by Mr James, of Siop Y Frenni, Crymych, to redevelop the existing petrol filling station and shop with a larger NISA store.
Agent Thomas Login Architecture, in a supporting statement, said the existing floor area does not meet the operational needs of the retailer,” with a “poor shopping experience,” adding: “…the existing building is of very poor construction which significantly affects the viability of progressing any meaningful extension to the existing building”.
A Retail Assessment was submitted along with the application, which said there would be no impact of other stores, disputed by a council-commissioned Regional Retail Study, which says there is no capacity to support new convenience floorspace across Pembrokeshire.
The application was recommended for refusal for reasons including “the proposed development is inadequately justified and in the absence of evidence to the contrary will prove harmful to the vitality and viability of Crymych and nearby settlements,” and impact on neighbouring dwellings.
Local member, Cllr Sion Rees said: “I, today, speak on behalf of the people of Crymych; when this came to their attention the people of Crymych certainly can talk. There is overwhelmingly positive feedback for this development, people are quite excited in Crymych. When we saw the plans for the development it was a welcome sight indeed.”
He said the village was expanding, with “bricks being laid” for a new housing estate of 40 homes.
“People must have a choice at the end of the day; on my social media page businesses in the community think ‘it would help us,’ there’s a lot of cake for everyone I believe.
“I’ve listened to everyone, there are concerns for sure, they are not objecting but there are concerns; there is a way around this, and, yes, there are concerns from a local shop next door [the exiting Spar shop].
“To have an investment in Crymych – in places like Carmarthen and Haverfordwest shops are closing – to have someone invest in a little village like Crymych is amazing; this can work, with tweaking, I don’t think rejection is the way forward, if we work together this can work.”
He conceded the current application was “not perfect by a county mile,” but working together could “make this an asset for the village”.
Committee chairman Cllr Jacob Williams felt the quality of the application was lacking and there may be a case for the application to go “back to the drawing board,” saying it “doesn’t even tick the boxes for disabled provision”.
Members were told by officers the case for viability put forward by the applicant showed “no evidence whatsoever there will not be a harmful impact on other shops,” with the local development plan “abundantly clear” this needs to be shown.
Councillor John T Davies said the scheme had “a number of voids and gaps, some of them significant”.
“It pains me as it would be good for Crymych, Crymych rarely benefits from public investment and it is obvious to the laypeople this is a huge visual improvement,” Cllr Davies added.
He said he hoped that, if the application was refused, it would lead to a fresh reconsidered application.
His views were shared by Cllr Brian Hall, who moved the recommended refusal, seconded by Cllr Davies himself.
Cllr Jacob Williams added: “If this is refused today, I actually hope the applicant will come back with something else; if it is a better proposal, I think it will be warmly received by committee.
“I think this application was doomed, it is a very poor-quality application; this application didn’t even tick the disability provision box, it really outlines this is not the right application.”