A BUTTERFLY conservation project in Carmarthenshire has won at a prestigious national awards ceremony.
The project, which protects the habitat for the protected marsh fritillary butterflies and manages the impact of economic growth, won in the Excellence in Planning for Natural Environment category at the Royal Town Planning Institute’s (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2018 held at a ceremony in London last night. The Awards for Planning Excellence are the most established and respected awards in the UK planning industry.
The project protects the butterfly’s habitat, which is of European significance, from economic development in Cross Hands, one of only three economic growth areas in the county.
EU Regulations dictate that planning permission for development could only be granted in this sensitive area with a conservation plan in place. Individual developers were unable to set up the level of mitigation required on their own, so the planners at Carmarthenshire County Council developed a plan to use S106 contributions from a number of individual developers. S106 contributions are made by developers to local infrastructure and services, and can pay for land management agreements, acquisition of suitable land and revegetation.
Craig McLaren FRTPI, RTPI Awards Advisor said: “Planners strategic and innovative use of planning tools, particularly funding leveraged through S106 agreements, has saved the butterflies habitat while allowing economic growth. It’s a practical example of how planners can use the tools at their disposal to solve a number of problems and deliver positive outcomes for the environment, economy and community.”
Running for over 40 years, the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence celebrate exceptional examples of planning and the contribution planners make to society. This year saw a nearly record number of entrants and the judges shortlisted 78 finalists across 13 categories.
Andrew Jones MRTPI, Practice Leader Design, Planning + Economics at AECOM said: “AECOM is proud to be a headline sponsor once again of the RTPI’s Awards for Planning Excellence. Those recognised tonight illustrate the best of the planning profession and demonstrate the impact we have on quality and delivery in every area of the built environment. On behalf of AECOM I would like to extend our congratulations to all of the commendations and winners.”
David Jackson MRTPI, Head of Planning, Savills said: “Savills is delighted to be a headline sponsor of the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence. The winners this year reflect the positive impact planning has on our communities across the UK, Ireland and internationally through projects, plans and people. I’d like to congratulate all of those short-listed for awards and the category winners on behalf of the team at Savills.”
The Royal Town Planning Institute champions the power of planning in creating prosperous places and vibrant communities. It represents over 25,000 members worldwide, supporting them throughout their careers.
The Institute shapes planning policy, raise professional standards and is the only body in the UK to confer Chartered status to planners, the highest professional qualification.
First two cases of coronavirus in Carmarthenshire confirmed
THE FIRST two cases of coronavirus have been found in Carmarthenshire, the Welsh Government announced today.
The two patients in the Carmarthenshire local authority area had recently returned together from northern Italy.
It comes as the Hywel Dda Health Board which serves the area opened two centres to test for coronavirus, one in Cardigan and one in Carmarthen.
The health board announced it had opened the testing centres to “help protect the health of our communities”, while also saying that centres could be opened in other areas across the health board.
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, confirmed that a total of nine patients in Wales had tested positive for coronavirus (COVID -19) today, bringing the total to 15.
Council unveils ambitious housing plan
CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council has unveiled major plans to build more council homes and further improve its existing housing stock, including an ambition to move towards ‘carbon neutral homes’.
Executive Board approved an impressive Carmarthenshire Homes Standard (CHS+) business plan this week (February 24, 2020) in a commitment to build on a £286million programme it has already delivered to bring council homes in the county above the Welsh standard for social housing.
Pending Full Council approval in March, the council has outlined its intentions to commit £49million to continue the CHS+ programme whilst developing a new standard to further improve the energy efficiency of their homes, aiming to cut and off-set carbon emissions to ensure homes are warm, cheap to run, and easily adapted to cater for people’s changing needs.
As part of this vision, the council is planning to improve the fabric of houses so that they become more energy efficient. It will also harness off-grid sustainable energy solutions, such as wind and water, and has committed to planting 1,000 trees to off-set carbon emissions.
The council has also made a new commitment to invest £52million building more homes over the next three years as it works towards returning its housing stock to levels last seen in the 1990s.
The new programme will link to the council’s wider strategic regeneration initiatives, including developments in the Tyisha area of Llanelli, town centres and key rural towns.
The administration’s previous promise to deliver 1,000 more affordable homes is just 15 homes short of the target it set itself for 2021, including the completion of its first major new-build development since the 1970s in Pembrey, and the phase-one completion of a second development in Bynea.
Cllr Linda Evans, Executive Board Member for Housing, said the investment would not only improve living conditions for existing tenants and provide more quality affordable homes for local people, but will also contribute to providing employment and training opportunities in the local construction industry.
“The plan is very ambitious – we are building new homes and working with tenants and key partners to ensure Carmarthenshire is at the forefront of the decarbonisation agenda,” she said. “Carmarthenshire is one of three authorities working with Welsh Government to look at measures to decarbonise our homes, and this work will start in the next few months.
“The fact that we have been able to invest in our homes, we’ve been able to build suitable homes and adapt homes for people and their families is very impressive – there’s more to do, but we are ready to take the challenge. It’s a very exciting time.”
Delivery of the council’s ambitions depends on an average rent increase of 2.7 per cent, working out at roughly £87 a week for a two-bedroom home – the second lowest rent level for social housing in Wales and significantly lower than private rented accommodation.
The council will also seek £6.1million from the Welsh Government’s major repairs allowance fund.
Llanelli: Notice of Motion follows school transport concerns
A NOTICE OF MOTION will be discussed at Llanelli Town Council on Wednesday (Mar 4) following the concern of many parents over the loss of school transport for their children.
The motion will be proposed by Shahana Najmi, Town Council Leader and Councillor for the Lliedi Ward and seconded by Sean Rees, Llanelli Town Councillor for the Glanymor Ward.
The motion reads as follows: “Recent changes to UK legislation have led to the cancellation of many paid-for school transport with the consequence that many Llanelli school children are now expected to walk many miles often along unsuitable routes to get to School.
“This has only highlighted the need for change to how school transport is delivered. We believe that all children whether they pay or not should be able to access safe and effective school transport to enable them to get to and from school to a point safe and a reasonable distance from their home.
“We therefore write to the Ministers for Transport and Education at the Welsh Government to ask them to support a new School Transport Policy here in Wales that complies with UK legislation and ensure that children here in Llanelli are not expected to walk miles to school in often adverse weather conditions and often on unsafe and unsuitable walking routes.
“We also write to Carmarthenshire County Council to ask them to do all in their power to ensure that children in Carmarthenshire have access to appropriate school transport and consider all options available to them to ensure acceptable provision.”