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A quiet village could double in size after controversial plans for 120 homes were approved

Plans to build scores of new homes on a greenfield site west of Cardiff have been given the go ahead despite a host of objections.

Developers applied for permission to build 120 homes on a site next to the Vale of Glamorgan village of Bonvilston which would almost double its size.

The site is sandwiched between the village and the Cottrell Park golf resort to the north of the A48.

A fifth of the new properties would be designated as affordable homes.

But opposition to the plans was received by the Vale of Glamorgan council ’s planning committee when the plans were first published in autumn 2015. They have since been amended, which is why it was not until this week that it was considered by the planning committee.

Plans could see 1,500 homes built on outskirts of Cardiff

St Nicholas and Bonvilston community council – supported by neighbouring community councils – had argued the development would have “a major negative impact” on Bonvilston itself.

A letter to the committee from the council’s clerk Meirion Evans, which set out a series of objections, said building the homes “would represent a major incursion into the open countryside”.

Developers behind plans for housing in the Vale of Glamorgan say wide-ranging environmental investigation is not necessary

“Substantial investment would be required to provide adequate facilities to support such a development,” it added.

“There is no public open space in the village. The village only has a church, a small shop and a public house.”
Alun Cairns, the Vale of Glamorgan's MP, opposed the plans

Other concerns were raised about the impact the development would have on the level of traffic along the A48 and that the small local schools would not be able to cope with dozens of families moving to the area.

One objector wrote: “The proposal to build 120 homes effectively doubles the size of the current village. This number of homes does seem very excessive indeed and will put a real strain on the community and the very modest facilities currently available to it.”

A letter from the Vale’s Conservative MP Alun Cairns said the plan would deprive “a historic village and thriving community” of “a green piece of their countryside heritage”.

Mr Cairns added: “Sites such as Sycamore Cross should not be considered while large brownfield sites within the authority boundary go unexploited.”

The plans were approved at a meeting of the planning committee on Thursday evening.


Scenes for BBC drama Poldark filmed in coastal Welsh village
Actors, including Poldark himself Aidan Turner, were at Southerndown, filming for the next series

Scenes for popular BBC One drama Poldark have been filmed at a coastal village in the Vale of Glamorgan .

The series’ star Aidan Turner was seen among other actors shooting scenes for the 18th century based drama in Southerndown on Thursday.

Actors were dressed in black hoods while another was dressed in an English captain’s uniform.

Turner, while wearing a black hat from the period, looked slightly more modern as he donned a camouflaged coat, no doubt to keep the January chill at bay.

Turner was also carrying a hot water bottle on what was a chilly day

The location on the south Wales coast is a change of scenery for Poldark, which is set and predominantly filmed in Cornwall.

It seems the filming schedule scuppered star Turner’s plans to party at the National Television Awards in London’s O2 Arena on Thursday.

Poldark will return for a third series and filming has already started

Speaking to The Mirror, he said: “I’m just really chuffed that there’s a category for period dramas, it’s brilliant to be a part of that and everyone else has been amazing.

“But I can’t party too much tonight because I’m back filming tomorrow, I’ll be riding a horse along the coastline. Typical!”

The series tells the story of Ross Poldark (played by Turner) and his fight to keep his family’s mining business afloat.

The first series of the drama was based on the first two Poldark novels by Winston Graham.

The Poldark baby who died in the TV drama is a true survivor in real-life

Production on series three began before series two finished airing on television, and is expected to feature later this year.

Eleanor Tomlinson will return as Demelza, and three new characters will be introduced - played by Doctor Thorne star Harry Richardson, Tom York of Olympus fame and New Blood’s Ellise Chappell.

York and Richardson will play Demelza’s brothers, Drake and Sam, while Chappell will star as Morwenna, cousin to the character Elizabeth Poldark, played by Heida Reed.

The series is produced by Mammoth Screen, and writer Debbie Horsfield has penned nine new episodes.

Horsfield said: “We’re thrilled to be kicking off Series 3 with a fantastic array of new characters and a story which scales new heights of conflict, feuding, passion and drama.

“Ross is older but not necessarily wiser, and his recklessness sometimes costs him, and his loved ones, dear. We’re in for a rollercoaster ride where the stakes have never been higher.”


Council should focus on cleaning streets rather than issuing fines – Plaid

The Vale of Glamorgan council says it spends £1.5m a year on cleansing activities

A South Wales council should spend money on employing more people to clean the streets rather than hiring a private firm to fine those who drop litter, Plaid Cymru say.

The Vale of Glamorgan council has an arrangement with environmental enforcement company 3GS to hand out on-the-spot penalties of £75 to those who drop litter or create other waste problems including spitting or spraying graffiti.

At a meeting of full council last month it was revealed that a total of 161 fixed penalty notices were issued by 3GS in the first two months of the scheme, October and November 2016.

A breakdown of what those fines were for was only available for the 50 which were recorded in October – of which 41 had been for “cigarette waste”, five for general litter, three for spitting and one for “unauthorised distribution of free matter”.
'Clean streets should be our focus, not fines'

And Plaid councillor Ian Johnson, who represents the Buttrills ward in Barry, said those figures showed the council should prioritise cleaning the streets rather than simply handing out fines.

“While a deterrent will make some people think twice about dropping a wrapper or stubbing out a cigarette on the floor, this doesn’t really make a huge difference to the cleanliness of our towns,” he said.

“Spitting isn’t nice but fining people for it is hardly going to stop our dog mess problem.

Tourists are accused of leaving one of Wales' most beautiful sites in a shocking state

“Clean streets – free of litter and dog mess – should be our focus, not fines. The Vale council should invest in more street cleaners to keep the streets tidy and to clean up dog fouling problems on residential streets.”

But a council spokesperson said: “When setting out our street-cleaning activities in the Vale, we assess the views of our residents along with the outcome of independent inspections of our streets undertaken annually by Keep Wales Tidy.
3GS operations funded by penalties, not taxpayers' cash

"Our three-pronged approach to street-cleansing services covers education/awareness, cleanliness activities and enforcement. There are competing demands for funding in any council, and street-cleansing must be weighed against the likes of education and adult and child social care when establishing the budget available.

“The latest Keep Wales Tidy report (2015/16) suggests that the Vale has a street cleanliness indicator of 69.6, placing us eighth out of 22 local authorities.

"To help us achieve this we currently spend £1.5m a year on cleansing activities and prior to the recent appointment of enforcement partner 3GS, we undertook limited activity dealing with the small proportion of our residents who are responsible for a significant amount of this expenditure.

“3GS are not paid by the council, their operations are being funded by penalty revenue. They therefore cost our taxpayers nothing.

"It is accepted that our residents would appreciate a greater concentration of effort on dog fouling and general waste offences and we are looking to develop this as the partnership progresses. It should not be forgotten that the agreement only started on October 10.
Council previously had contract with separate private firm

“We are hopeful that this enforcement activity coupled with education campaigns such as the recent ‘Dogs are Clever’ anti-dog fouling series and our continuing significant street cleansing activities will result in major benefits and this remains very much our aim.”

When the council announced the move last year, Paul Buttivant, managing director of 3GS, said: “Our mission is to support local authorities across the UK by providing them with an ethical, uncontroversial, proactive and focused enforcement service to tackle enviro-crime and help them reach their cleaner, greener aspirations.”

In spring 2013 it was revealed that thousands of on-the-spot fines had been handed out in just five of Wales’ council areas by a different private contractor, Xfor, in a separate initiative.

Among them was the Vale, where 95% of the 1,008 fines issued between July and November 2012 had been given to smokers dropping cigarette butts – with just four fines issued over that period for dog fouling.


The happiest (and least happy) places in Wales revealed

Do you live in one of Wales' happiest areas?

The happiest and least happy places in Wales have been revealed.

The findings are based on government data after people were asked four questions about their personal well-being.

The questions were:

overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?
overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?
overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?

People are asked to respond on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is “not at all” and 10 is “completely”.

The Vale of Glamorgan is officially the happiest place in Wales. Anglesey came second, followed by Powys and Wrexham.

Newport overtook Merthyr Tydfil as the least happy place.

Since 2011, the Office for National Statistics has asked personal well-being questions to adults in the UK to better understand how they feel about their lives.

The data was collected in the year to the end of September last year - meaning it included the run-up to, and fall-out from, the EU referendum.

The Outer Hebrides in Scotland was the happiest place in the UK. The least happy place in is East Northamptonshire in England.

Wales was the only country to have higher anxiety ratings than the UK average.
The happiest (and least happy) places in Wales

Vale of Glamorgan 7.68
Anglesey 7.67
Powys 7.59
Wrexham 7.59
Pembrokeshire 7.55
Denbighshire 7.55
Conwy 7.52
Bridgend 7.52
Gwynedd 7.51
Monmouthshire 7.49
Ceredigion 7.46
Swansea 7.46
Carmarthenshire 7.45
Flintshire 7.43
Cardiff 7.41
Neath Port Talbot 7.38
Blaenau Gwent 7.35
Torfaen 7.30
Rhondda Cynon Taf 7.29
Caerphilly 7.28
Merthyr Tydfil 7.27
Newport 7.24

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