This is the statement that Gareth Ratcliffe, as Hay's County Councillor, is making the the Brecon Beacons National Park Planning Committee today. It's a good summing up of the story so far:
"May I first take this opportunity to thank you for allowing me to address this committee on such an important development for our community.
For many years now the need for a new school in Hay-on-Wye has been well documented. The community has been split on ways of delivering such development but united they have been in the need to replace the falling down school that is presently in place. A school that was built in early 1970s with a 20 year life span and was well over due when I left the school.
Over all the community FULLY supports the application and I only wish to make some comments for the planning committee to consider when approving this application. This would be to enhance the application to benefit the community and also to help the council and BBNP understand in any future developments the wider discussions that should be considered with a community to help understand the needs and issues to deliver a wider supported community on and off the site proposed.
I will go on and I hope these comments will Help
1. For many years the community have been promised a community focused school with sufficient community space to help mitigate the loss of our community centre. As the council has moved forward they have only worked with the school in the development and not extended it to the wider community in drawing up the proposals that have a wider community impact., The officer has said that LDP policy 50 doesn’t apply to this development in relation to the loss of community facilities so I would like pointed out that it is the previous decision by PCC to remove the community centre that is at the heart of the issue because what is being proposed in the school is the supposed “alternative and equivalent”. We believe it does apply and I would welcome the committees view?
2. I am pleased to see that the council is proposing to put the public Library in to the school but I’m a bit surprised as Powys are presently in discussions with the community on funding the future of the library. I am very disappointed to see council departments are not talking to each other to get a plan that may benefit more people and working in silos and consulting the community in peace meal sections. This could end up with the community having community sections of the building they may not be able to utilise fully and not afford. So I hope the planning application will allow flexibility in the future.
3. Swimming Pool. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the PTFA for taking the running over of the pool to save it from closure. This is something close to our hearts. I would like to see security in the application to support its viability and do not design restrictions that may hinder its long term objective.
4. The location/relocation of the recycling is also important to our community it is much used and needed facility but also, Hay carpark has beautiful views of the country side and consideration desperately is needed not to stain the image of Hay as the proposed siting at bottom of the carpark would be the first thing anyone would see entering the carpark.
I will finish now and hope the committee will take the comments on board and approve this application for the residents of Hay-on-Wye."
[edited to add: PLANNING HAS BEEN GRANTED BY THE BBNP!]