A CONSERVATIVE MP who appealed against a decision by Powys County Council planners has received both good and bad news from a planning inspector.
The inspector has accepted part of her appeal, but rejected the other.
Last year Fay Jones, the MP for Brecon and Radnorshire’s application for retrospective planning permission to change her office at Leamington House on Temple Street from retail to office use was rejected by Powys planners.
She also wanted to replace a “rotting wooden door and window frame” with similarly coloured UPVC – which is a form of plastic that is used as a wood substitute.
Ms Jones had been advised to use UPVC as a security measure.
The issue with the application is that the office is in part of Llandrindod Wells which is a conservation area.
The planning inspector who looked at the appeal, Clive Sproule said that the change of use from retail to business use should be “allowed.”
But Mr Sproule dismissed the appeal on replacing a rotting wooden door and window frame with similarly coloured UPVC.
Mr Sproule said: “Temple Street, in common with other areas of the Conservation Area, typically has business premises and other buildings with wood framed doors and windows.
“The installation of the UPVC front door and window on the appeal site failed to preserve or enhance the appearance of the Llandrindod Wells Conservation Area.
“I have considered whether there are public interest grounds that make an exceptional case for overriding the strong presumption against developments which damage the character or appearance of a conservation area.
“In doing so I have attached considerable importance to the need to protect the personal safety of politicians and their staff and I have had regard to the specific requirements of parliamentary security teams when vetting constituency offices.”
“However, there is no tangible information to indicate that other less damaging security options have been properly explored.
“Neither is there any cogent evidence that timber replacement frames would provide significantly less security than UPVC.
“In these circumstances, it has not been demonstrated that an exceptional case on public interest grounds exists to justify the impacts of the development on the Conservation Area.”
Mr Sproule said that a “split decision” could be made in this case.
Ms Jones said: “I was advised to put these security measures in place by Parliament’s security and policing teams.
“After a number of threats of violence, including a death threat in recent weeks, I remain committed to finding a solution which will keep my team and I safe.
“I very much enjoy having my office in Llandrindod Wells, in the middle of a thriving town where constituents are free to pop in any time.
“I would hate to close my office and force my staff to work from home because we are unable to find the right security measures.”
The appeal was amongst a number that were noted but not commented on by Powys County Council’s Planning committee at their meeting on Thursday, February 2.