Councillors to reconsider controversial planning application over safety concerns
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
A controversial planning application for houses already built in Blaina will be back in front of councillors again on Thursday.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s planning committee councillors will have another look at the development of one detached, two-storey house and six semi-detached homes already built at Rhes yr Ysgol (School Row) on the former site of Cwmcelyn school.
If permission is refused the houses could end up being demolished.
The application was originally refused by Blaenau Gwent in 2014, this was later overturned by Welsh Government planning inspectors, and the homes were built.
Following an anonymous complaint, it emerged the homes did not match the granted planning permission.
Developer D3 Property Developments lodged an amended planning application to be allowed to retain the homes, which came before the committee in July.
At that time planning officers recommended refusal because of the steep driveways meant there was a risk that cars would roll back into the road .
Visibility of the road from the driveways is also hampered.
Adding further complication, people have been living in the homes since 2018, having bought them.
At the meeting in July, one of the residents, Andrew Pugh told councillors that they “didn’t know of the issues” when they bought the property.
He said: “As far as we were aware everything was above board and legally transparent.”
The committee deferred the application so that all parties could “get together and try and sort things out.”
Blaenau Gwent planning officer Jane Engel explained in an updated report to the committee, that after the July meeting the developers submitted changes to their plans.
Ms Engel said: “Consultation has been carried out with the owners/occupiers of all seven properties following submission of both sets of plans.
“The revisions indicate how the frontage boundary treatment of four of the seven properties could be reduced in such a manner as to provide improved visibility at the point of access onto the public highway.”
But, she added that highways officers were still of the opinion that the issues had not been solved and the development “remains a potential hazard to the public highway. ”
Ms Engel added that a refusal of the plans on the grounds of road safety remains in place.
Ms Engel said: “In terms of acceptability, members must now decide whether the revisions that have been proposed are sufficient to overcome the reasons for refusal as set out in the original recommendation to committee in July 2021.”
Other options for the councillors to consider include granting the development permission as it is, or with the changes the developer proposed in amended plans submitted after the July meeting.
Ms Engel advises councillors that the problem with the latter option is, if the work is not done, – enforcement action might need to take place, adding an extra layer of complication.
“The responsibility for compliance may well now rest with the property owners and action may need to include them as the current landowners,” said Ms Engel.
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