Plans to demolish historic Bangor building to erect ‘monstrous’ 36-flat development refused
Gareth Wyn Williams, local democracy reporter
Plans to demolish a historic Bangor building to make way for a “monstrous” 36-flat development have been turned down by councillors.
Following the advice of officers, Gwynedd Council’s Planning Committee refused the proposals for Blenheim House, which sits next door to the city’s railway station on Holyhead Road.
According to planners, there was no proven need for more one and two bedroom flats in the city due to plans for 177 similar units already being in the pipeline or having been awarded planning permission.
With seven of the units proposed to be affordable, the plans submitted by Quatrefoil would also include 40 parking spaces to compliment the four storey building.
The agent for the developers, David Fitzsimon, told Wednesday’s meeting that the plans would improve a derelict building “which doesn’t create a great first impression for visitors arriving at the train station.”
Pointing out that officers had no issue with the design, he spoke of a “hypothetical housing supply issue,” which he went on to describe as being based on “outdated and irrelevant housing targets.”
“My clients own the Jewson site in the city, which has an old but extant permission for 70 apartments, but is unlikely to be developed in line with the existing permission as the most up to date market research indicates that a mix of town houses and apartments is more suitable for the site,” he said.
“Such a mix would halve the number of housing units delivered, such a site is a very different site and location to the one before you today, which is ideally suited for an apartment development.”
He added that refusing the plans would likely increase house prices due to a growing supply and demand gap.
‘Back to use’
But the local ward councillors urged members to follow the advice of officers, with Cllr Mair Rowlands describing the plans as “out of character” and “unsympathetic,” while also raising traffic and over-development fears.
Cllr Catrin Wager added her view that the plans did not meet the local need and pointed to the objection of Bangor Civic Society, describing it as “excessive in scale and height” in the gateway to the city.
Most recently housing Period Interiors, she conceded that the site had attracted anti social behaviour.
But with Blenheim House thought to be the former home of the station master, she suggested that this should have been listed alongside the railway station itself, pointing to the already lost Railway Institute.
“I would welcome this building being brought back to use, but this is not the right development,” concluded Cllr Wager.
Fellow Bangor councillor and planning committee member, Huw Wyn Jones, added: “I don’t think the images accurately portray just how domineering the new building would be, standing three metres above street level as it is.
“They want to build this monstrous building. I don’t think there’s any justification.”
The plans were unanimously refused.