Letter: Superstore threat to Welsh towns

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The Independent Online
Sir: Town centres in the Cotswolds can count themselves extremely lucky that seven local councils in the Cotswolds are prepared to exchange trading information in order to protect them from superstores ("There's still time to stop the life being sucked out of the loveliest small towns in Britain", 1 November).

Here in Wales the town centres face the twin evils of flimsy Planner Policy Guidance - leading to confusion and wished upon us by the Welsh Office - and the predominately Labour councils which are still accepting enormous out-of-town superstore developments, even when it is patently obvious that they are threatening the town centre.

Highstar Development on the outskirts of Merthyr Tydfil will threaten town centres within a 30-mile radius, crippling Aberdare.

Large companies are now targeting small towns where they know that the combined trading population will not be in a financial position to take the decision to judicial review, which seems the only way to fight the situation.

It is time we had impact studies which follow the Japanese model, where those most likely to be affected by a developer have a say in the methodology of the impact study and an input into the date. This could be accomplished if money were forthcoming from government resources, and added to by the developer.

At present, impact studies paid for by those wishing to develop are grossly biased and government reorganisation in Wales has ensured that planning departments do not have the time to unravel the data.

JUDITH TOMS

Honorary Secretary

Aberdare and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce

Aberdare, Mid Glamorgan

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