TWO planning applications which open up access to the River Severn in Newtown have been passed by Powys County Council’s planning committee.

The first application was for an access track and area for parking.

The second was to build four access and exit sites on the Severn riverbank for canoes.

Cllr David Selby (Liberal Democrat, Newtown Central) spoke on the first application: “This is part of the community asset scheme and exchange of land.

“There was a public meeting and as a result of that the plans for buildings and allotment were changed.

“The balance of what is a good use of public space and what is good for resident amenity is going to be a difficult one to get right from time to time.

“There were concerns under the original plans about extra traffic on narrow estate roads, but I’m pleased that the process has worked well when there are 3,500 people living on the edge of this.

“As a result of a lot of compromises we’ve come up with something that looks very simple and will be an essential part of the land transfer.”

Cllr Elwyn Vaughan (Plaid Cymru – Glantwymyn), who put forward the motion to back the plans, said: “This is a significant project for Newtown  which should be welcomed and we should be supportive.”

Heulwen Hulme (Independent – Rhiwcynon) said: “This is at the edge of a large estate the amenity land available to them is essential to the well being of the families and I second the proposal.”

On the second application, some fears had been raised on car parking if canoeists were dropped off at one place and then after paddling downstream, picked up at another point.

Cllr Les George (Conservative – Caersws) said: “Would there be any interference with the car parking facilities, because they will be launching canoes on the river.

“Quite often you see big transit vans with  trailers for the canoes. Will it obstruct car parking or create extra pressure?”

Simon Crews of the Highways Department replied: “It will not make much of a difference.

“You’re looking at limited numbers and the trips are going to be infrequent, you’re talking about transit van, minibus and trailer.

“if they are launching canoes they will then be driving round to the next car park to pick them up. So it’s not going to be long.

“They have to pay for parking the same as everyone else does and they would be more than like paying for two bays.

“It won’t take anything away from the town, if anything it will be bringing people in.”

Cllr Huw Williams (Labour – Ystradgynlais) said: “This is a really positive development and I think it opens up the river front for extra use and I propose we accept a recommendation before we have more discussions.”

Both applications were passed unanimously.

The applications are a part of Open Newtown’s (formerly Going Green for a Living’s) vision of managing open spaces more imaginatively into reality.

Soon, they will receive tenure of around 130 acres of land from PCC to be held in a Community Land Trust.

In 2018 Open Newtown received  £1.1 million from the Big Lottery to use on the project.