I wrote about the Lammas ecovillage back at the start of the year. At the time, I aired my feelings of ethical support, but real-world unease. Now things have moved on and the development has been granted planning permission not by local planners, but in an act of centralised government colonialism, by the Welsh Assembly Government, against the wishes of local politicians and residents.
“The local MP, the county council, the AM and most importantly the local residents, were all against it and yet the Welsh Assembly has come in and just ridden roughshod over everyone’s concerns.”
Preseli Pembrokeshire AM Paul Davies
It’s from the point of view of the local residents that I agree with the opponents of the scheme. In the words of Counsellor John Davies the leader of Pembrokeshire County Council (who thinks the decision to grant the permission is “wrong”):
Hard working families cannot get permission to build a single dwelling if it is outside a village boundary and yet this community has got permission for an entire village.
On face value this seems like double standards and favouritism. In their defence Lammas can claim eco credentials that a traditional block and brick or timber frame building with a typical usage pattern may not have. A test case of a planning application for single dwelling for a local family on a traditional site, but with improved eco credentials would move this on in an interesting direction and perhaps (depending on the outcome of the application) lead to a more equitable range of options for all involved.
In the sake of even-handedness, I’ll leave off with the words of Paul Wimbush of Lammas:
It is an opportunity for society to begin to implement the radical change that is so desperately needed to develop vibrant local economies and sustainable land use. The Welsh Assembly Government can see this and thank goodness we have central government leadership with the vision and courage to welcome change.
Quotations from and thanks to the Tivy Side Advertiser.