A PROPOSAL for 14 mainly one-bedroom affordable homes in Roch has been approved despite local arguments that there is not the demand for this type of housing in the village.
An application to demolish the former Roch Gate Motel, which has been disused for a number of years, was discussed by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park’s development management committee on Wednesday (September 8).
The committee heard from Nolton and Roch Community Land Trust (CLT) that an independent housing needs survey it commissioned indicated that 40 new homes were needed with three-bedroom houses the most popular, followed by two-beds and seven per cent indicating one and four-bedroom properties.
There was also more demand for affordable properties to purchase, rather than rent, the CLT has said.
“There’s really serious concern that local people cannot find accommodation and have to move away,” said David Smith, part of the CLT group, at Wednesday’s committee.
Roch resident Shirley Bevan also addressed the committee and said despite the site being an eyesore “it’s not better to have something there than nothing because this housing development doesn’t meet the needs of the local people.”
The plan will see 14 properties built – four one-bedroom flats, six semi-detached one-bedroom bungalows and four houses with four-bedrooms, that a Section 106 agreement will restrict to local lettings policy only.
Mrs Beavan added: “We don’t need one-bedrooms, we need three-bedroom houses that remain for local people in perpetuity.”
There was also concern local that the building of houses on that side of the road will lead to more development there when the village is located the other side.
Applicant Ian Bowie told the committee he and his brother had bought the former hotel with the intention to sell it to Premier Inn before it decided on building in St Davids, and that there was previous planning permission for a 40-bed hotel on the site.
He added they planned to enter negotiations with a housing association to rent the affordable homes and the Section 106 “will be severely controlled for renting only” with significant demand for the homes already shown.
There were 23,000 enquiries when a local estate agent advertised the potential for 18 two -bedroom houses previously planned for the site, he told the committee.
Cllr Di Clements said she was “struggling” with a decision when it came to the type of homes proposed while Rachel Heath-Davies questioned the evidence of the need for one-bedroom homes in the area.
Housing demand figures were provided for the planning application by Pembrokeshire County Council as housing authority – which differed to the CLT’s – with an update emailed the day before the committee meeting.
There was only one vote against the application with delegated power to approve granted to the director of planning and park direction subject to a section 106 agreement. If this is not agreed in three months Rachel Gandy also has delegated power to refuse the application.