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Residents criticise plans to build flats in Newtown Conservation Area

COUNCILLORS will be advised to turn down plans to demolish the former Motor World car spares building in Newtown and build flats there.

At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Planning committee on Thursday, March 16 councillors will debate a planning application by Nigel Bryant of Surrey based Manip Ltd.

Mr Bryant wants to demolish the current building on Gas Street, replacing it with a new one which would provide ground floor retail space and six flats above it.

The application received much criticism from residents with 124 objections raising a number of issues including: loss of privacy, that it would impact on nearby historic buildings and the conservation area as well as put extra strain on “outdated” sewers.

But 57 letters of support were also received for the proposal, which is the final one of four previous drafts.

The application has been “called in” for a decision by the planning committee by Newtown East county councillor Joy Jones.

Cllr Jones said that this is due to “the scale of the new development” and that the height of the building is “out of character for the area.”

Cllr Joy Jones

Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn Town council have also objected to the proposal as it would “not compliment or enhance” the surrounding conservation area.

Powys council’s built heritage officer, Dr Sam Johnson said: “This is the fourth response on this application.

“The continual and significant amendment of a live planning application is not the correct way to design development.

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“In regard to the conservation area the site is visible when entering Newtown, and in particular is within the setting of the Robert Owen Memorial Garden.

“The proposed site is opposite a row of the last remaining historic timber framed buildings in Newtown.”

Dr Johnson explained that these buildings are listed as is a nearby Georgian building and the proposal “will harm” their setting and recommended that the application should be withdrawn.

Senior planning officer, Kate Bowen said: “The principle of the development which includes an affordable housing contribution is supported on this brownfield site in the Newtown town centre.

“However, it is considered that the design has not been sufficiently amended that the development would complement or enhance the character of the surrounding area.

“The development would harm the appearance of the Newtown Conservation Area and the settings of the identified listed buildings.

“Therefore, the recommendation is one of refusal.”

In documents lodged in favour of the application, agent Geraint Jones of McCartneys planning consultants said: “The site has the ability to be a stand out project in Newtown, providing a feature building.

“The proposal provides high quality design and sustainability at the town centre location which provides much needed high quality retail space, together with unique residential accommodation at this location.

If councillors decided to go against the officer recommendation and approve the scheme. a sustainable drainage system (Suds) application would need to be approved before building work can start.