MEMBERS of the Penybanc Action Group (PAG) have been left stunned after plans to build 289 houses on the outskirts of the village were given the green light.

The group claims they were given assurances no decision would be taken over resubmitted proposals for a development on land at Tirychen Farm and say they fear approval was granted solely to avoid Carmarthenshire county council facing a costly legal challenge.

The planning committee’s shock move came at a meeting on March 28 in which no members of the residents’ group were present – despite them being allowed to present the case opposing a previous application.

Following that December presentation, the planning committee rejected plans for 336 houses on the site, and PAG claim they were told that the latest meeting – where the development was just one of numerous applications – would simply see the authority acknowledge receipt of that amended proposal.

“Weare shell-shocked, to say the least” said PAG chairman Chris Green.

“We were not expecting a new decision to be taken, not to mention the committee overturning their original decision to refuse 336 houses in December.”

Mr Green told the Guardian he had been assured by planning officers just days before the meeting that no decision would be taken.

“Something about this stinks,” he said.

In a statement issued following the decision, the council said the reduction in property numbers addressed earlier concerns over the impact of the development on the Welsh language.

However, no mention was made regarding access, traffic problems and the impact on utilities and community resources, all of which formed part of the previous refusal.

“Reducing the plan by 47 houses – approximately 15 per cent – changes nothing,”

said Mr Green.

“I cannot understand how the committee changed its mind so easily.

“I can only surmise that the planners would again have raised the probability that the developers would go to appeal with the resultant cost to the council.

“This may well have swayed some of the committee.”