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Caerphilly Politics South Wales

New pizza restaurant in Caerphilly town centre approved

47 Cardiff Road, Caerphilly, pictured in May 2023 (Pic: Google)

A NEW pizza restaurant has been approved for the site of an empty shop in Caerphilly town centre.

Pizza chain Fireaway is the likely new occupant for 47 Cardiff Road, according to designs lodged with Caerphilly County Borough Council.

The premises was most recently home to candle shop Bwthyn.

Council planners have granted permission for the redevelopment, after a debate over the role of the town centre.

The council’s own rules state ground-floor retail spaces can only be redeveloped for another use if the vacancy rate of the town centre has been above 10% for more than a year.

The vacancy rates for central Caerphilly were 6.5% in 2022 and 6.7% in 2023, according to a council report.

This should mean the proposed redevelopment of the premises for food and drink use is “unacceptable in planning terms, as it would have a detrimental impact on the vitality and viability of the town centre”, the council planners said in their report.

But a similar case was overruled, on appeal, in 2020, by a Welsh Government planning inspector – who said the council had provided “no information as to how the existing vacancy rate is affecting the shopping role of the centre”.

There was also “little evidence” non-retail units “are presently undermining the primary shopping function”, the inspector added at the time.

The council planners accepted a “conflict” with one area of its planning policies “does not automatically mean the proposal would be contrary to the overarching aim of the policy to maintain the vitality and viability of the town centre”.

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Each application “should be treated on its own merits”, the planners added.

They concluded the pizza restaurant proposal “would not lead to a fundamental change to the existing situation of Cardiff Road and there is no evidence that it would itself unacceptably harm the vitality and viability of the town centre”.

No members of the public lodged any objections to the application, which was granted planning permission subject to several conditions, including around the opening hours of the new business.