Councillors back flats plan for disused Llanelli church
See the Carmarthenshire Herald, August 19 2016, p.15. The yawning gap between conservation regulations and resources for conservation means that historic buildings can be left to fall down because the owners cannot afford to renovate them according to conservation rules. This conflict was aired by Carmarthenshire’s planning committee last week.
The issue has featured in this blog before — see https://westwalesnewsreview.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/poisoned-chalice-of-owning-a-historic-building/
Councillors rejected planning officers’ advice on Thursday (August 18) and approved a plan to construct nine flats in the disused All Saints Church, Goring Road, Llanelli.
The church, built in 1872 for £4,800, around three times more than the typical Victorian church of the time, is a listed building with stained glass windows, much interior ornamentation and a protected monument in the churchyard. The building closed in 2011.
Planning officer John Thomas told members of Carmarthenshire County Council’s planning committee that the church had been marketed for a number of years, with very little interest shown by potential buyers. The application would not alter the external appearance of the church, but he recommended refusal for several reasons including advice from the council’s Conservation Officer, and objections from the Victorian Society and the Ancient Monuments Society.
Councillors, though, feared that the alternative would be for the church to stand empty until it became so dilapidated that it would have to be demolished.
Cllr John Jenkins (Ind, Elli) pleaded “don’t leave us with another large derelict church in Llanelli town centre”. Cllrs Terry Davies (Lab, Gorslas) and Peter Cooper (Lab, Saron) thought there was a high risk of the building being left to fall down. Conservation specialists are “so narrow-minded they don’t move at all”, said Cllr Davies, worried that conservation zeal without financial resources resulted in disused buildings remaining disused.
No committee member voted against giving permission to the applicant, P W Jones Contractors of Pear Tree House, 3 Harris Lane, Llanelli. Five abstained, and the majority voted for P W Jones’s proposal.
The application will now be referred to CADW, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, because the committee rejected planning officers’ advice.