Llanelli Star - - FRONT PAGE - Richard Youle

PLAN­NING permission for the £200 mil­lion Llanelli Well­ness and Life Sci­ence Vil­lage has been granted after the Welsh Government de­cided not to call in the ap­pli­ca­tion.

Car­marthen­shire Coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee had unan­i­mously ap­proved the scheme in Jan­uary, but it had to be re­ferred to Cardiff Bay.

In a let­ter seen by the Lo­cal Democ­racy Ser­vice, the Welsh Government told the coun­cil on July 8 that it had considered a num­ber of is­sues, but that the ap­pli­ca­tion did not raise “novel plan­ning is­sues”, and that “it is now for your author­ity to de­ter­mine the ap­pli­ca­tion as it sees fit”.

In a state­ment, a Welsh Government spokes­woman said: “After care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion of all the is­sues raised, the Min­is­ter for Hous­ing and Lo­cal Government has con­cluded that the ap­pli­ca­tion does not raise land use plan­ning is­sues which war­rant the in­ter­ven­tion of the Welsh Ministers.”

The coun­cil-led scheme is the sec­ond big­gest of the 11 city deal projects be­ing taken for­ward in the Swansea Bay City Re­gion.

The Welsh Government’s de­ci­sion has been wel­comed by Car marthen shire’ s Labour op­po­si­tion group.

Group leader, Coun­cil­lor Rob James, said: “We are ex­tremely pleased that the stop no­tice for the city deal project has been lifted after our dis­cus­sions with the Welsh Government.”

Built over five years, the well­ness project at Delta Lakes will de­liver a new leisure cen­tre and swim­ming pool, a com­mu­nity health hub fea­tur­ing health­care fa­cil­i­ties and busi­ness devel­op­ment space, a life sci­ence cen­tre for re­search and busi­ness expansion, a range of as­sisted liv­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion, sports fa­cil­i­ties, and an up­graded lakeside

land­scape. The plan­ning com­mit­tee’s approval had also been sub­ject to en­vi­ron­ment body Nat­u­ral Re­sources Wales (NRW) sign­ing off fur­ther flood mod­el­ling as­sess­ments.

Cllr James said it was now a pri­or­ity to get the busi­ness case for the project signed off by the UK and Welsh Gov­ern­ments.

Doing so will re­lease some of the £40 mil­lion cen­tral Government con­tri­bu­tion to the well­ness vil­lage.

It is ex­pected that the pri­vate sec­tor will cover the lion’s share of the cost (£127 mil­lion), ac­cord­ing to the heads of terms of the £1.3 bil­lion city deal, with the coun­cil also pay­ing a share.

The well­ness vil­lage has had its prob­lems after the sus­pen­sion of Swansea Univer­sity em­ploy­ees said to be linked to the project and the coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to ter­mi­nate a col­lab­o­ra­tion agree­ment with a pri­vate sec­tor devel­op­ment part­ner.

Cllr James and Plaid Cymru coun­cil leader Em­lyn Dole have ex­changed sharp words over the scheme in re­cent months. The coun­cil is look­ing into dif­fer­ent ways of de­liv­er­ing the project, with Cllr Dole adamant it will be com­pleted on time.

In May, out­go­ing coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark James said the author­ity could de­liver the well­ness and life sci­ence vil­lage in­de­pen­dently be­cause the re­pay­ments on bor­row­ing would not be too oner­ous.

“I see no rea­son why we could not do this,” Mr James said at the time. “We have done much big­ger things our­selves.”

In a state­ment is­sued on July 8, Cllr Rob James said Labour coun­cil­lors had lob­bied the Welsh Government to pre­vent a callin. Glany­mor Labour ward coun­cil­lor, John Prosser, said: “We have al­ways sup­ported this project and it’s im­por­tant we get it, as we will never again have this op­por­tu­nity to trans­form this area.”

The Plaid Cymru-In­de­pen­dent ad­min­is­tra­tion has been ap­proached for com­ment.

Cllr Alun Lenny, who is chair­man of the plan­ning com­mit­tee, wel­comed the Welsh Government’s de­ci­sion not to call in the well­ness vil­lage ap­pli­ca­tion.

The Plaid Cymru mem­ber for Car­marthen Town South added: “The call in re­quest by Labour politi­cians – which re­sulted in a stop no­tice – was to­tally un­nec­es­sary.”

He said it was “as­tound­ing” that the same peo­ple were now “seek­ing to take credit” for the no­tice be­ing lifted.

Phase one el­e­ments of the £200m Llanelli Well­ness and Life Sci­ence Vil­lage.

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