A masterplan which will be used to determine what development takes place throughout Bridgend County Borough between now and 2033 has moved a step closer.
Cabinet members have agreed to refer the plan to a future meeting of full Council along with a recommendation that it be approved and submitted to Welsh Government for independent examination.
The plan, which has taken three years to produce and is several hundred pages long, has been subject to a huge amount of research, evidence gathering and an extensive public consultation process which has taken into account more than 1,200 representations from local people.
The replacement Local Development Plan (LDP) features all of the policies that the authority will use when determining future planning applications. It sets out how land throughout the county borough can be used and which areas will be maintained as open space or designated for residential, employment, retail, waste, mineral development, community and tourism purposes.
The plan incorporates several potential development sites and includes locations at Porthcawl, Pyle, Pencoed, Island Farm and land to the west of Bridgend as well as sites identified within the town centre masterplan.
The replacement LDP proposes making enough land available to support projected increases in population, the development of 7,500 new jobs and the construction of 7,575 homes including 1,600 affordable dwellings, some of which have already been built, along with a 10 per cent flexibility allowance.
It also includes providing five new primary schools, transportation developments such as park and ride facilities for Porthcawl and the proposed Brackla railway station, extended / new park and ride facilities at Pyle, Maesteg Ewenny Road and Pencoed, and a new replacement road bridge over the railway at Pencoed.
Under the LDP, all SINC wildlife sites and SSI scientific interest sites will be protected, and there are provisions for increasing public open space as well as the number of local allotments.
Other key developments include establishing a new passing loop and half-hour rail services to Maesteg, and bus corridor improvements in the Llynfi, Ogmore and Garw valleys, between Porthcawl and Cornelly and between Pyle, Aberkenfig and Pencoed.
Since its previous draft, several significant changes have been made to the LDP. Parc Afon Ewenny has been removed as a potential strategic housing site due to planning requirements on development within areas that are at risk of flooding, while a proposed site for gypsy and traveller accommodation on land located to the north-east of the council depot in Bryncethin has also been removed due to changes in identified need.
Elsewhere, flood prevention work carried out in Porthcawl has supported proposed regeneration development in the Salt Lake, Coney Beach and Sandy Bay areas.
Cllr John Spanswick, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “The replacement Local Development Plan has been three years in the making and is the result of a huge amount of research and analysis, and I think our planning team have done a fantastic and meticulous job in preparing it for the county borough.
“It lays out a carefully-planned balance of residential, commercial and leisure development that will ensure Bridgend County Borough can meet future demand between now and 2033 while also encouraging fresh investment and employment.
“From the feedback received through public consultation, it is clear that some residents are concerned about the potential impact additional development could have upon existing healthcare facilities, traffic levels, schools, utilities and green space.
“I want to reassure them that under the terms of the LDP, no new development can take place unless it can also deliver whatever additional infrastructure improvements may be necessary, and that this includes things like roads, schools, GP surgeries, leisure, open space, community facilities and more.”
“Latest census data has also confirmed that Bridgend County Borough is now one of the fastest growing areas in Wales, and that we are keeping pace with much larger areas such as Cardiff.
“People are living for longer, and the situation is only going to get worse unless we plan ahead now and ensure that more homes can be provided to meet this rising demand.
“At the same time, we have to carefully balance residential needs against developments that support new employment and investment, and the LDP enables us to do this while taking a huge range of additional guidance and legislation into account.
“The next step now is to discuss the LDP at Council, and to then submit it to Welsh Government where it will be independently assessed as part of an inquiry presided over by a planning inspector.
“Once that process has been concluded, the draft LDP will go before a meeting of full Council for a final decision, and if approved at that point, it will serve as the new LDP for the next 15 years.”
Frequently asked questions on the Local Development Plan
What is the Local Development Plan?
The Local Development Plan (or LDP) features all of the policies that the council will use when making decisions on planning applications. It uses up-to-date data to predict what future local needs will be, sets out how land can be used, and identifies which parts of the county borough will be maintained as open space and which can be used for residential, employment, retail, waste, mineral development, community and tourism purposes.
Why do we need it?
Without the LDP, there would be uncontrolled development throughout the county borough. Instead of using brownfield sites for housing, there would be significant pressure to release greenfield sites based in unsustainable locations instead. This would result in expensive and lengthy planning appeals, and developments that would undermine any long-term strategies for the area.
What does the LDP do?
The LDP strictly identifies and controls exactly where and what type of development can take place, and seeks to establish a safe, healthy, inclusive network of communities that demonstrate strong employment, service and transportation functions, and which connect with the wider region to trigger sustainable economic growth.
Why does the LDP allow new houses to be built?
We face a national housing shortage and a population that is living for longer. Around 200 families and individuals are in temporary accommodation in Bridgend County Borough, and we are currently investigating more than 500 cases of homelessness. This means that with predicted population increases, people are going to need more homes to live in, now and in the future. Similar housing provision is being planned for in other areas such as Rhondda Cynon Taf, the Vale of Glamorgan, Neath Port Talbot etc.
How do you calculate how many new homes are needed?
The number of extra houses an area needs is carefully determined using local population data and more. Even if each new development that has been proposed goes ahead, the predicted numbers would amount to around 200 new houses a year for the next 15 years.
Won’t more houses mean more traffic?
Any development that takes place must also demonstrate that it is sustainable. This means that under the LDP, a development will not be allowed to go ahead unless it can also deliver whatever additional infrastructure improvements may be necessary, including to roads. Comprehensive transport assessments look at the impact on the local highways network, while a strategic transport assessment evaluates whether associated infrastructure improvements are necessary. Councils are also now required by national planning policy to develop active travel networks as an alternative to using a car for local journeys.
What about demand on things like schools, GP surgeries, shops etc?
The LDP also takes this into account – it is produced in partnership with organisations such as Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board so that they can plan ahead to meet future demand. The LDP also seeks to deliver development on a large scale as it means that all of the new support infrastructure can be provided at the same time. For example, a new housing development near Bridgend town would need to include 20 per cent affordable housing, new primary schools, broader education facilities, new leisure and recreation facilities, public open space, new community facilities, commercial uses and more.
How does the LDP encourage new business and jobs?
The LDP details where future commercial and industrial development can take place, and attracting and developing a skilled workforce is an important factor in encouraging new and existing employers to invest into the area. Throughout its duration, the LDP seeks to create around 5,000 new jobs, balance housing and employment needs, support new job opportunities, and to provide a realistic level of land that can be developed for employment purposes.
Do new houses benefit the council by generating extra council tax?
Extra housing does NOT generate additional revenue through council tax. Before awarding the council its annual settlement grant which is used to provide services, Welsh Government first deducts the amount of council tax an area is expected to generate.
How does the LDP affect wildlife and biodiversity?
The LDP ensures that measures are in place to protect wildlife and biodiversity concerns. Before any work can begin on a development, developers will need to submit ecological management plans showing how they would mitigate, enhance and maintain specific habitats, including for protected species such as bats and dormice. In the case of sites such as Island Farm and Merthyr Mawr, a ‘green lung’ link with Newbridge Fields would need to be created.
Does the LDP protect cultural and heritage sites?
Yes – sites such as Hut Nine will always be protected, and in addition to heritage protection arrangements, developers will need to agree to meet appropriate conditions ranging from green landscaping, traffic reduction measures and highway improvements to increased walking and cycling links, improved public transport, effective drainage and more.