Housing plan threatens heritage landscape


Maybe I am missing something. It is possible, after all no-one is perfect but just where is the logic in deciding that an area is worthy of being designated as a special landscape only for the same body of people now to be asked to consider giving a developer permission to build 93 houses there?

If you can see any logic, please do tell! It just seems so ridiculous.

The august body that decided to give it Special Landscape Area status, as shown the local development plan, and is now considering giving outline planning permission is none other than Conwy County Borough Council.

The site in contention is in Sychnant, high above Conwy town, near to Pinewood Stables and the building that in my childhood was Pinewood Towers Hotel.

Local people are incensed by the plan to build houses in such a beautiful area that borders the Snowdonia National Park which will, if the developers get their way, be visually blighted no matter how sensitive the developers say they are going to be.

After all, it is not just the houses. Really, it is 93 houses, numerous roads and probably 150 cars, with buses connecting the new properties with the town.

The planning application has been submitted by Beech Developments and it has been out for public consultation. Opposition is being led by members of the Parc, Llys and Sychnant Residents Group.

The group says: “We oppose these plans to build in such a beautiful and unique area. Not only are they but metres away from the Snowdonia National Park but the fields are a Special Landscape Area. It would be completely inappropriate to build such a large development here. The land ought to be protected and remain agricultural and wildlife friendly.”

Such a large development? Any development would be wrong. Our landscape is an important part of our heritage, let’s keep it that way.

According to the council, there is a shortage of housing in Conwy and I have every sympathy with efforts to create more but not at the expense of such a beautiful area. They should find other areas in which to build; areas that are not so environmentally sensitive.

The residents’ group has sent a letter to the council, saying: “We are requesting that you refuse planning permission for this development because of the area’s sensitivity and natural beauty. The field borders the Snowdonia National Park and therefore ought to be protected. The development is highly unsuitable for this historic landscape.” The group has also presented the council with a petition of nearly 500 people opposed to the plans.

Independent Conwy ward councillor Joan Vaughan said: “It is bordering on Snowdonia Park, so it is a shame to lose a green space. The main issue is coming down into Conwy. It’s extremely busy and, with all the extra traffic, I truly suspect the road will not be able to take it. Unless the council does something about the road, it will be a nightmare.”

Mike Roberts is land and planning director at Beech Developments. He said: “Whilst the layout (as shown in the application) is only indicative it does show that an attractive and high quality development can be achieved. Affordable houses will be provided for local people who wish to rent or purchase their first home.

“We have had discussions with the relevant statutory authorities regarding drainage, access and highways and other technical issues and their comments have been taken on board.

“It is always regrettable some greenfield sites have to be developed but we live in an area where brownfield sites are in short supply and there is a substantial unmet demand for housing locally.”

Public consultation has now ended, so the application will soon be considered by the planning committee.

Let’s hope than sanity prevails and that Sychnant remains unspoilt and blight-free.

  • Ian Franks is an experienced award-winning journalist and one of his specialities is the countryside. He spent some years as Rural Affairs Editor of weekly newspapers covering the Caernarfon and Anglesey areas – and was named as Welsh Farming Journalist of the Year in 1999. He is reknowned for not being afraid to voice his forthright opinions and his campaigning style of writing. He currently lives in Colwyn Bay.

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