CONTROVERSIAL plans to demolish the former Motorworld store in Newtown and replace it with a block of flats are expected to be approved.
Planning officers say the revised application – lodged after an earlier version was refused – addresses previous concerns around the impact the development would have on the town’s conservation area and nearby historic buildings.
But the final decision rests with Powys County Council’s planning committee, which will meet later this week to vote on the proposals.
The scheme has been scaled back after it was rejected by the committee in March, with the height of the building dropped by 2.2 metres and the number of flats reduced from six to four. The ground floor will contain retail space.
The application has been called-in by Newtown East councillor Joy Jones. She said: “There is a general feeling in the area that the building is still going to be to high and out of keeping with other properties surrounding it.”
A report to the committee by senior planning officer Rhian Griffiths says there were 50 objections and nine letters of support received in response to the plans from members of the public.
Conservation officer Dr Sam Johnson said: “The site is sensitive when entering the conservation area, it is near the Robert Owen Memorial and several timber frame buildings on The Bank.
“There are a variety of heights of buildings within the vicinity of the proposal, it is generally taller than its immediate neighbours, but is in line with the height of three storey buildings on Gas Street and within the Newtown centre.
“Variety of height within a street scene is not unusual within parameters, and in this location would not be out of place.”
Dr Johnson had been highly critical of the previous application and blasted the applicant, Nigel Bryant of Surrey-based firm Manip Ltd, for repeatedly amending the plans, saying it was “not the correct way to design development”.
Ms Griffiths’s report notes public objections around the design of the building, including the proposed double apex to the front, but says Dr Johnson is satisfied that this is not out of keeping in Newtown.
She adds that it “reduces the overall massing of the building” and allows solar panels to be installed discretely.
Ms Griffths also notes other concerns about the impact on existing residents in terms of noise, loss of privacy, overbearing and loss of light.
However the report says that, given the proposed building is set at a lower level than existing properties and across the road, “it is not considered that the development would unacceptably affect amenities enjoyed by the occupants of neighbouring properties”.
It adds that “a certain level of noise is expected in town centres in any case”.
The planning committee will meet to decide the application on Thursday.