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COUNCILLORS voted narrowly to refuse planning permission for 15 affordable homes at the former Glan-yr-Afon Court in Ebbw Vale.

On Wednesday, November 24, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s planning committee met to re-discuss Tai Calon Community Housing plans to build a mixture of flats, bungalows, and semi-detached houses at the former Glan yr Afon (Riverside) Court, Ebbw Vale.

The plans had been discussed at a meeting earlier this month, but a decision was postponed due to concerns about the loss of open space at the site.

At that meeting councillors had voted to defer the application to allow for a “fact-finding” site visit to take place.

That site visit happened on the morning before the meeting and Blaenau Gwent planning officers still recommended that the scheme should be approved.

The council’s planning services development manager Steve Smith told the committee that Tai Calon were willing to sign a legal agreement not to build more on the site than the current scheme they had submitted.

He added that it was still planning officer’s belief that having affordable homes built at the site, “outweighed” the loss of a green area.

Cllr Godfrey Thomas, who remembered playing football on the site 65 years ago as a schoolboy, stuck to his view that the site should remain parkland.

Cllr Thomas said: “I can’t accept that loss of the land would be outweighed by the dwellings.

“I was down there on Friday and the sun was shining, Glan-yr-Afon Court was to my back, and I looked down and was amazed at such a beautiful sight.”

“Behind Dol-yr-Afon was the backdrop of Mynydd Carn-y-Cefn,”

“This ground has been residents over the years to visit, this is very important for the wellbeing of the community of this area.

“There’s no shortage of brownfield sites in Blaenau Gwent – we have plenty of land available, so why is it necessary to try and take this?”

He added that they needed to think about communities 100 years in the future as well.

“Cllr Lisa Winnett said that the site visit had been “very valuable.”

Cllr Winnett said: “It did surprise me how small and additional parcel of land was actually being taken to what the original site was.

“Residents didn’t have any objections to the original site being used, it was the additional land.

“I wish Tai Calon had set that out before residents like they did for us today, it would have alleviated a lot of concerns.”

Cllr John Hill said: “The site meeting threw a completely different light on it; you could see exactly where the built part was going and that left quite a bit of ground which will be landscaped.

“My impression is that it will be more attractive area, that landscaped part will still be accessible for the public and we’re crying out for this type of development.”

Cllr Hill put the plans forward for a vote and backed the officer’s recommendation of approval.

This was seconded by Cllr Winnett.

The vote was taken and six voted against the proposal and four in favour.

Mr Smith said :”We’ll need to present the report at the next committee to formalise the reasons of refusal.”

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