PLANS to convert a Pwllheli home into two flats to help prevent homelessness have been approved despite local opposition.
The proposals for 20, yr Ala form part of the authority’s recently announced housing action plan to provide affordable homes.
According to the documents accompanying the application by Gwynedd Council’s housing department, the one and two bedroom flats would be used to meet the growing local need for such properties.
“The creation of two living units here would enable us to use them to accommodate people in such circumstances, individuals who are usually near the top of the housing register, at an affordable social rent, until a suitable house becomes available,” noted the report.
“This will help us to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. We have a number of other living units in Pwllheli that are used for the same purpose without any problems. We currently have around 95 units of this type in Gwynedd and therefore it is not a new concept”.
But Monday’s meeting of Gwynedd Council’s planning committee also heard opposition to the plans, including a video presentation from one local resident.
Mr Emyr Evans said there had been a “lack of engagement” with neighbours, also claiming that planning permission should have been sought before attempting to purchase the property and not after.
“Many local young people live on the terrace, having bought properties and trying to protect the Welshness of the town, and now the council buys two homeless flats in the middle,” he said.
“What effect will this have on house prices? This is totally inappropriate.
“We can’t understand how the highways department and town council haven’t raised objections, parking is a joke with 50 homes fighting for about 20 parking spaces.
“If the town council can’t see that these plans are not appropriate in a respectable part of town then God help us.”
The local councillor, Dylan Bullard, noted the local opposition but sought assurance that use of the property would be monitored regularly if approved.
Cllr Simon Glyn suggested there was more work to do to “win the hearts and minds” of neighbours, agreeing there was a lack of parking in the area.
“This property has been purchased with planning permission taken for granted, which I find to be quite brazen to be honest,” he added.
“I feel that further consultation is needed with the neighbours before allowing this to go ahead, if you bulldoze this through then local people will be rightly opposed to such developments and will have no chance of succeeding.”
Cllr Berwyn Owen, however, said: “We often speak of the need for affordable housing and how good the council’s housing action plan is, yet here’s a chance to do something about it and there’s reticence.
“I don’t like the stigma being attached to the homeless, but would like to see a condition attached to any permission ensuring the property remains as affordable housing forever.”
Calls to delay a decision to allow for further consultation failed to gather enough support, with the recommendation to approve the application being backed by six votes to five with three abstentions.