CONTROVERSIAL plans to convert a former job centre in Tredegar into a Bed and Breakfast, will be back in front of councillors for a decision this Thursday, October 14.
The application to turn the building on Coronation Street in Tredegar into an 11-bedroom bed and breakfast has been lodged with Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council by Ashraf Rahman, who also runs a guest house in Merthyr Tydfil.
At the last Blaenau Gwent planning committee in September, the application was put on hold due to concerns that it could become an anti-social behaviour hotspot.
At that meeting three councillors for Tredegar Central and West, Cllrs Steve Thomas, Haydn Trollope and Amanda Moore spoke against the proposal.
They believed it could become a “halfway house” for people released from prison and that there had been problems in Tredegar with a similar development.
Due to these fears, councillors on the committee asked for a deferral so that the claims could be looked at in more depth.
They also asked planning officers to investigate the community impact of the scheme as a reason to refuse the application that could be defended at appeal.
Planning officer Jane Engel said in her report: “Concerns were raised that the proposal would have a negative impact upon the community and on businesses.
“However, no explanation was given as to how.
“If it was based on the behaviour of future occupiers of the business, this would be extremely difficult to justify a reason for refusal in planning terms.
“Any reason for refusal on these grounds would need to be specific in nature and related to planning matters.
“This council has been the subject of a number of costs awards
in recent times for refusing planning permission where (the) planning
committee has been unable to defend that decision with evidence.
“These costs awards are mounting up and are significant.
“There is no budget to meet this expenditure.
“I must place on record my concern that an unsustainable refusal of this application again places the council in a position where a costs award is a realistic prospect.
“Reliance on anecdotal evidence or ‘local knowledge’ is insufficient.”
Ms Engel explains that councillors on the planning committee must take decisions based on planning policy, and the advice of officers and other consultees
“My recommendation remains the same as my previous report, that planning permission should be granted subject to conditions,” said Ms Engel.
Conditions include that no-one stay at the bed and breakfast for more than 28 days in a year, and that an up-to-date register containing details of the names, main home address, dates of arrival and departure of visitors is kept.
This register should be available for the council to inspect.