PLANS to demolish a Tonyrefail warehouse and build flats have been refused by councillors.
An application to demolish the W R Bishop and Co Fruit and Vegetable Wholesale warehouse and build of a block of 16 social housing apartments with associated parking and amenity areas went before Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s planning committee on Thursday, October 6 and was rejected in line with the advice of officers.
The plan was for a two-storey residential scheme of 16 apartments which would provide 100% affordable housing on behalf of the registered
social landlord Newydd Housing Association.
Currently, the site is accessed via Penrhiwfer Road but the proposal is to close
off this entrance and create a new access from Bryn Rhedyn, which would lead to a car park with 17 spaces.
Landscaping and planting would be provided, with large areas to the north-east and south-east of the site seeded with grass and a covered secure cycle parking stand and enclosed bin store are proposed as well.
The plans were revised versions of the original submission, after a meeting between the applicant, agent and architect as well as correspondence with the applicant’s agent, which aimed to resolve concerns relating mainly to the design of the proposal, access, and amenity.
But the plan for the site on Penrhiwfer Road was been recommended for refusal by council planning officers and the council has received letters of objection from 53 people, including the Member of Parliament for Pontypridd, together with a petition containing 936 signatures.
Their concerns covered areas like planning policy, land use and infrastructure with particular concern over the impact on healthcare facilities, schools and drainage and whether there is a need for the development.
They also raised concerns about highway issues such as the lack of parking and health and safety issues.
Other fears included the design and whether it would be in keeping with the area, residential amenity and the loss of privacy from overlooking, community safety, community integration and issues around ecology, the environment and sustainability
Officers said in the planning report that by virtue of its scale, massing and location, the development would “unacceptably dominate the outlook” from the habitable rooms within the south-west facing elevation of number 19 Bryn Rhedyn.
“Its looming presence and proximity would therefore have a significant detrimental impact on the amenity of neighbouring residents”, which officers said was contrary to planning policy.
However, they did say that the proposed development and residential land use would, in principle, be acceptable.
They also said that “whilst there are concerns regarding the form and layout of the flats, its relationship with the surrounding street scene and thus its impact on the character and appearance of the locality would not be considered to be a detrimental one, and no other concerns were raised by statutory consultees, particularly with regard to access and highway safety.”
But they said “the proximity of the north-western side elevation of the development to the nearest neighbouring property would be harmful to residential outlook and amenity, and therefore the development could not be considered to be in accordance with LDP.”
Councillor Karen Webb who represents Tonyrefail West on the council said:
“To build more accommodations is ludicrous. As councillors we are being inundated with complaints regarding lack of GP and nurse appointments, people’s health issues being overlooked due to surgeries being run off their feet.”
She said the GP surgeries, pharmacies and schools are all unable to cope at the moment with the number of patients they have to deal with. She said: “Tonyrefail at the moment is full to capacity and we’re objecting because something needs to be done to stop the building of more houses until the infrastructure is looked at as we are overpopulated already.”
She said she’s concerned with the workload of GPs, nurses and pharmacies have and that the system in Tonyrefail is broken and needs fixing before more properties are built.
Councillor Dan Owen-Jones, who represents Tonyrefail East on the council and is also a member of Tonyrefail Community Council, said it is agreed by many that the mass scale and location of the development is not in keeping and will unacceptably dominate the area.
He said they’re having mass applications in Tonyrefail but that they haven’t got the services.
Cllr Owen-Jones said:
“I for one am not against social housing, there’s not much need on single bed flats. We could do with two-bed and three-bed which will sit in this plot absolutely brilliantly.”
He said five or six two-bed or three-bed flats would be better suited to this than 16 one-bed flats.
Planning committee member Councillor Ross Williams said they have to make decisions on planning matters.
Fellow committee member Councillor Craig Middle said he thinks there needs to be a strengthened case on reasons for refusal as he’s concerned about the overdevelopment of the site and over access and egress.
The planning officer said access arrangements have been carefully looked at by the transport department and that it would be difficult to evidence a reason for refusal which relies on objections based on highway concerns when the council’s own highways officers believe the proposals are acceptable.
He said the building which would replace the current one is of a comparable size so it would be difficult to say it’s an overdevelopment of the site and that officers’ concerns are over its design and relationship to the end house at number 19.
Councillor Gareth Hughes said: “These developments are often unpopular with local communities.”
He said it’s a real challenge for the committee as he understands the emotion over it but they have a need for a significant number of quality one-bedroom homes and where 90% of the stock across RCT is traditional terraced housing it’s going to be very difficult to build developments without looking out of character in some way, shape or form.
He also said he’s not convinced that it will generate significant amounts more traffic and he said he’s struggling to support the motion to refuse.