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Planning inspector rejects appeal to allow former B&B to be turned into flats

A appeal has been lodged with Welsh Government planning inspectors as plans to convert the former nursing home, Unity House in Llandrinio into flats remain in limbo (Pic: Google Streetview)

A WELSH Government planning inspector has rejected an appeal over a proposal to convert a former bed and breakfast into flats at Llandrinio near Welshpool.

A planning application by Charanjit Singh to convert Unity House into 15 one-bedroom apartments, two two-bedroom apartments and three studio apartments was lodged with Powys County Council in February 2021.

Parking spaces would also be created for 27 vehicles at the site.

The application was due to be decided by the council’s Planning Committee at a meeting on June 16, 2022.

A report at the time by principal planning officer Gemma Bufton, had recommended approving the application and giving it conditional consent.

On the day Ms Bufton informed councillors that just before the committee meeting started, she had received an email which “challenged” parts of the land ownership and also whether the appropriate notices had been served on the property.

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Due to this, Ms Bufton believed that a decision on the application could not be made by councillors at the meeting and asked for the application to be deferred.

Councillors agreed to the postponement and the scheme has been in limbo until now.

The grounds for appeal lodged by Mr Singh were down to the council not deciding the application.

The building was last used as a bed and breakfast around 15 years ago, and in 2008 planning permission was given to convert Unity House into a care home that could accommodate 44 people.

This planning permission is still in existence although it was never implemented.

This proved to be a central reason for rejecting the appeal as the site is in a flood zone and that “vulnerable development” should not be permitted there.

Planning inspector Nia Jones said that the principle of development could be acceptable.

But as the nursing home development had not been built Ms Jones said that she has “no evidence” that conditions to the planning permission such as the raising of the crest level of the flood defence bund had been done.

She said that Mr Singh had confirmed that that running the premises as a nursing home had been deemed “unviable.”

Due to this Ms Jones placed “little weight” that the dilapidated building would be turned into a nursing home if the flat conversion application  was rejected.

Turning to highways safety issues, the site access comes from the B4393 road and the council’s highway authority had said that there should be 160 metres of visibility there.

But visibility for traffic turning right or south-east from Unity House is only 80 metres.

Ms Jones who visited the site in October said that this was “consistent” with her own observations.

Ms Jones said: “The proposal would increase use of a substandard access with drivers using the access and the road having inadequate warning of one another.”

There were also concerns that the scheme could not “demonstrate” that it would have no affect on the nearby Grade II* (star) St Trinio’s Church.

Ms Jones said: “I have found the principle of residential development on the appeal site acceptable.

“I also acknowledge the dilapidated condition of the building and that its redevelopment would provide for both open market and affordable housing locally.

“However, these matters, even taken together, do not outweigh the substantial harm I have identified in relation to flood risk, highway safety and the effects of the proposal on heritage assets.”

“For the reasons given and taking all other matters into account, I conclude that the appeal should be dismissed.”

An application to award costs to Mr Singh was also rejected.