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Blaenavon’s new housing plans refused

This patch of land, with Rifle Street to the right, could be developed for new housing (Pic: Google Street View)

PLANS for new housing on the edge of Blaenavon have been refused as planners have said the wasteland is part of the open countryside. 

An application was made in January this year for planning permission to build up to 10 houses on the overgrown parcel of land, covered in shrubs and trees, and bound by Abergavenny Road to the west, Rifle Street to the south, and the Elgam Avenue lane to the east. 

Though the application was for outline permission, meaning the final number of homes, the layout and access would have been decided at a later stage, Torfaen Borough Council’s planning department has ruled the site is unsuitable for development. 

As well as it forming part of the open countryside, where development is strictly controlled, planning officer Tom Braithwaite said “distance from key essential facilities” would make future residents dependent on their cars and there is concern about the stability of the land due to previous mining in the area. 

The loss of trees and the impact on wildlife was also raised and the council said it hadn’t been provided with any information on which it could make a judgement. 

In their application, Mr and Mrs G and S Sidhu, of Treherbert, had highlighted there was previously planning permission in place for housing. That hadn’t progressed as legal agreements weren’t concluded and the permission expired in 2016. 

Their application also described the site as within walking distance of schools, local shops, GP surgeries, places of worship and pubs and restaurants, with regular bus services, at Elgam Avenue, to the centre of Blaenavon and Cwmbran. 

But Mr Braithwaite said planning policy has moved on, with the local development plan having been adopted since the earlier proposal was approved, and there is also now a greater emphasis on protecting ecology and sustainable transport. 

Development would have seen “almost complete clearance of the land” described as an “important envelope” between the residential streets and “open countryside along Abergavenny Road” and there was a failure to show it wouldn’t cause “significant harm to the character and appearance of the area”. 

There was also concern access, from Rifle Street, could also have severed access to Elgam Avenue and though a final plan hadn’t yet been put forward the officer said information failed to show “safe and acceptable vehicle movements could be achieved at a somewhat complex junction with multiple converging roads.”

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