DECISIONS on planning applications for an £11.6 million transformation of Welshpool’s Neuadd Maldwyn into flats for older people, will ultimately be decided by the Welsh Government.
The application by Clwyd Alyn Housing Association to turn the Grade II listed building into 66 one and two-bedroom apartments, could be “called in” to be decided by the Welsh Government.
This meant that a decision made by Powys County Council Planning Committee at their meeting on Friday, January 22, to approve the plans, is for the time being only a “recommendation.”
The application was approved by 14 votes in favour, four against and two abstentions.
The scheme which has received the backing of the council’s Adult Social Services will be covered by grants of over £6.7 million from the Welsh Government. £4.15m from a Social Housing Grant and £2.56m from the Integrated Care Fund
The remaining £4.8m will come from Clwyd Alyn themselves.
On Tuesday, January 26, Powys County Council Cabinet are expected to discuss and approve the transfer of Neuadd Maldwyn to Clwyd Alyn.
The Welsh Government will inform the authority 21 days after receiving all the relevant documentation whether they are going ahead with a call in, or not.
A separate listed building consent planning application is already with the Welsh Government for a decision.
At the meeting, Welshpool Town Council clerk, Ann Wilson, spoke against the application.
She pointed out that there are “more than 16” various types of care homes in the area and that this type of facility is not needed.
Ms Wilson said that the county is losing young people while more older people arrive to retire, putting pressure on services.
Welshpool county councillors Francesca Jump and Phil Pritchard who are on the Planning committee argued that the plans should be deferred.
Cllr Jump (Welshpool Gungrog – Liberal Democrat) said:
“I’m horrified at the scale and design of the whole project in a conservation area which Welshpool is very proud of.
“This will be a blot on its landscape.”
“There are many questions we need answers to before we make a decision.”
Plans show that there would be 27 car parking spaces at the facility for the 66 apartments and the workers there.
Cllr Jump said:
“The parking is nonsensical – the nearest public car parks are 600 metres today.”
“If this was an application by anyone else it would not have been brought in front of us.”
Cllr Phil Pritchard (Independent – Welshpool Castle) claimed that the scheme would only see 21 of the 66 apartments used as Extra Care and the rest would be rented out.
Cllr Pritchard said:
“In Welshpool people are concerned and their views mustn’t be ignored, nobody is happy with this.
“This is about getting rid of it off the Council books and that’s not good enough.”
He stressed that the need in Welshpool is for “one and two-bedroom flats -not special care.”
Cllr Elwyn Vaughan (Glantwymyn – Plaid Cymru) said:
“What we have is a substantial listed building in a prominent place, which limits options of what you can do with it.
“We have a choice, we have an £11 million investment on the table, or we could leave a building which will be vacant and in future be run down as PCC is not going to spend on it.”
Cllr Vaughan pointed out that other extra care facilities he knew of in Newtown and Porthmadog were a success.
He proposed approving the application and that the car parking spaces be increased to 38.
Cllr David Selby (Newtown Central – Liberal Democrat) said:
“I would be surprised if this isn’t an asset to the town if it was built.
“We ought to encourage development like this which brings use to a building which has sadly lost its use.”