Row after plans to build 350 homes at Virginia Park passed
News | Niall Griffiths - Local Democracy Reporting Service | Published: 09:08, Friday May 24th, 2019.
Last updated: 11:46, Friday May 24th, 2019
A row has erupted between Caerphilly County Borough Council’s main political groups after a controversial development of 350 homes was granted planning permission.
Labour members of the planning committee have been accused by Plaid Cymru of “selling the community down the river” after the Virginia Park golf club plans were narrowly pushed through.
Plaid’s comments have been dismissed as a “cheap shot” by local Labour councillors who have long opposed the proposals.
The plans were approved by seven votes to six on May 22, with the four Plaid committee members present voting against the scheme alongside two Labour members.
But Plaid councillor Phil Bevan claimed the “Labour-majority” committee had broken a party pledge made in 2016 where Labour councillors for the Morgan Jones ward, and Labour AM Hefin David, said they would protect green spaces.
“They have sold the community down the river, their promises have proven to be worthless,” said Cllr Bevan.
In March, the Plaid councillor joined the Caerphilly town ward’s Labour councillors, Jamie Pritchard and Shayne Cook, to oppose the plans when they were first presented to the committee.
Concerns had been raised on both sides, and from members of a resident’s group, about the impact on the town’s infrastructure, the loss of a greenfield site and that only 25 houses will be offered as affordable housing
Cllr Pritchard described the scheme as a “moral outrage”, condemning developers GHR Developments for offering so little affordable housing.
But following this week’s meeting, Plaid town councillor and mayor Mike Prew claimed Cllr Pritchard’s housing comments “effectively accepted” the development.
Cllr Prew added: “The pledge just three years ago to protect every blade of grass in Morgan Jones ward has been shown up for what it is – a fraud.”
This has been described as “completely untrue” by Cllr Pritchard, who says he worked with Cllr Cook to organise a cross-party action group, a petition and provide detailed submissions against the plans.
“The comments from Plaid are a cheap shot, they are trying to spin the blame on Labour when the planning committee is a make-up of all political parties,” said Cllr Pritchard.
“However to blame us and Hefin David, who do not sit on the planning committee and therefore cannot control the outcome of any decision, is horseplay.”
Cllr Cook said he was “deeply disappointed” by the committee’s decision, adding: “I have battled hard to prevent the loss of this greenfield site but again the residents of Caerphilly are going to suffer for the greed of developers.”
Caerphilly AM Hefin David said: “I’ve continually taken on housing developers who are not building affordable housing in the places we need it. Cllr James Pritchard and Cllr Shayne Cook worked tirelessly to stop this development. I won’t respond to cynical political attacks from Plaid Cymru who have nothing good to say about anyone.”
A spokesman for GHR Developments had previously told the committee that the scheme would see the remediation of highly contaminated land and the delivery of “much-needed housing” in the area.