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BLAENAU GWENT: Ebbw affordables deferred

BLAENAU GWENT: Ebbw affordables deferred

Glan Yr Afon - Ebbw Vale where 15 affordable homes could be built.

COUNCILLORS have postponed deciding plans for 15 affordable homes in Ebbw Vale, so that they can visit the site earmarked for development.

Tai Calon Community Housing has applied for planning permission to build a mixture of flats, bungalows, and semi-detached houses at the former Glan yr Afon (Riverside) Court, Ebbw Vale.

But the loss of parkland at the site has caused problems that have resulted in  28 objections from nearby residents and a petition signed by 36 people against the plans.

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s planning committee discussed the proposal at their meeting on Thursday, November 4.

The council’s planning services development manager, Steve Smith explained that planners backed the scheme and the “crux of the issue,” is that losing the open space is “outweighed” by the need for affordable homes.

Local resident Max Newman spoke at the meeting, he said: “All evidence suggests that the park has never been identified or used as anything other than amenity or recreational open space.

“As it has been in existence for about 50 years surely this must constitute an established use as an open space or recreational facility.”

Tai Calon’s agent Jon Pritchard of Stride Treglown told councillors that the scheme would only use 20 per cent of the undeveloped land at the site.

“The proposal has been designed to maximise the retention and enhance existing open space in this area,” said Mr Pritchard.

Cllr Gareth Davies said: “I can’t see any way forward on this, we’re not building fields or green areas anymore.

“To build on them is something we can’t afford to do, surely we should have a site visit on this at the very least.”

Cllr David Wilkshire said: “I know this to be a play and recreation area for the last 60 years.

“I have friends living in that area that use it and I take my grandchildren to that location.

“Developing the footprint of Glanrafon Court which was demolished is fine.

“This area has been well used by the community it would be sacrilege to forfeit a piece of ground for this amount of houses.”

Cllr Godfrey Thomas told the committee that he could remember as a school pupil in the 1950s that it was a popular place to play.

“We need to protect these long established recreational green spaces in our community,” said Cllr Thomas.

Cllr Keith Pritchard seconded the motion for a site visit and said: “We’re all talking about areas and drawings on a map when I think it’s one of those we need to see on the ground and understand these concerns about the green space.”

Cllr Wayne Hodgins added that he would support a site visit as a “fact finding mission.”

Councillors voted unanimously for a site meeting.

The application will return to a future committee meeting for a decision.

Words: Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

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