Site is deemed not suitable and of special historic interest

Gillespies assessment prompts dismissal of Welsh wind farm

Welsh housing and regeneration Minister Carl Sargeant has dismissed an appeal against the refusal of planning permission for a 21-turbine wind farm in open countryside, despite the area being identified by the Welsh government as a Strategic Search Area (SSA): land considered to be broadly suitable for large-scale wind development.



Carmarthenshire County Council refused RES UK & Ireland's proposals for the Bryn Llywelyn development, between Lampeter and Carmarthen, in 2010. The scheme would have had a footprint of 1,397 hectares with 21 turbines.



RES UK & Ireland appealed the decision and a 13-day inquiry into the application was overseen by the planning inspector in 2013. He concluded that while the development would contribute to the UK target of 15% energy from renewable sources by 2020 and that the site was contained in a Strategic Search Area for renewables development, not all such land was environmentally suitable for major windpower proposals.

The planning inspector said  that the site in question was not suitable and should be preserved as a ‘special place’. He also considered the proposals would harm the setting of a number of Bronze Age Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SAMs).

Sargeant concurred with the decision by the planning inspector and dismissed the appeal.



Acting as an expert witness on landscape matters for Carmarthenshire County Council, Michelle Bolger, senior landscape planner at Gillespies, presented her assessment of the landscape in which the wind farm was proposed. She concluded that the development would be very harmful to the perception of Mynydd Llanllwni as a wild, empty and quiet landscape and to the value placed on it by local people and visitors alike.



'All those involved in defending Carmarthenshire County Council’s decision to refuse this application are pleased that the Inspector and the Minister recognised the importance of Mynydd Llanllwni with its wealth of Bronze Age SAMs and extensive areas of common grazing land,’ says Bolger. ‘We are delighted that these very special qualities will be preserved for everyone to enjoy.’

 
Arena Central, Birmingham
Elsewhere, Gillespies’ plans for the public realm at Birmingham’s Arena Central development have been unveiled by Arena Central Developments Ltd (ACDL).
 
Said to ‘echo statement spaces and landmark urban parks’, the design for the public realm of the 9.2-acre site breaks away from the conventional institutional finishes found on many mixed-use city centre schemes, with 40 per cent of the space given over to soft landscape.
 
The design includes a distinctive pedestrian ‘spine’ running through the site, connecting the commercial and retail zones fronting Broad Street to the north with the residential districts on the south side.
 
There is a gradual and defined change of landscape, with hard granite paving close to the commercial buildings giving way to a wild meadow at the opposite side of the site, creating the feel of a contemporary linear urban park.
 
Wide steps inter-linked with water features, ramps and soft landscape connect the plot’s various elevations, with curved benches breaking up the straight lines of the pathway. A water channel flows from the north to the south side of the development, forming a series of weirs, rills and cascades, and creating a transition between the space’s contrasting environments.
 
Materials sympathetic to the established location are used prominently throughout the public realm, ‘ensuring that Arena Central forms seamlessly into its surrounding environment,' says the practice.
  
‘In formulating this design, we have taken inspiration from existing public spaces in densely occupied urban locations, encouraging people-flow through a light, airy public realm that provides an oasis away from the hubbub of the city centre,’ says Gillespies associate Bill Basterfield. ‘Our design incorporates a linear grain to the central spine that dynamically transitions from hard to soft material elements as it passes through the various development typologies of the site,’ he adds.
  
Further demolition of the site is due to re-start in the summer to make way for work on the new public realm to start in the new year.
 
A joint venture between Miller Developments and Bridgehouse Capital, Arena Central is at the heart of Birmingham’s City Centre Enterprise Zone, enabling it to benefit from simplified planning and reduced business rates as well as forming a significant part of the city’s vision for regeneration, as laid out in the Big City Plan.

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