PLANS to convert an office to a home have been given the green light after concerns about who would use its toilet were dismissed.
Developments in Usk can face controls due to further potential phosphate pollution, including from human waste, of the protected River Usk, which has been identified as below acceptable standards.
Environment body Natural Resources Wales said it was concerned converting the office in Maryport Street to a home could attract new residents into Usk who would be adding their waste to that produced by existing residents and the subsequent risk of sewage dumping in the river.
The agency told Monmouthshire County Council’s planning department: “As the previous use was a place of employment, it could be argued this building was used by the local population, already served by connections to existing public sewers discharging within the river catchment.”
But that was dismissed by planning officer Kate Bingham who said it is “impossible to know where both employees and residents are coming from for certain” and that refusing the change of use application on this basis would not be reasonable.
The building, which has been used by accountants Bruce & Co, is next to the grade II listed White Heart pub and within the centre of town and the conservation area.
But Ms Bingham said there is no grounds for objecting to its change of use, though policies are in place to prevent the loss of shops within the central shopping area.
A flood risk assessment found the property is unlikely to flood and any risk is manageable.
According to the application, submitted by Jacqueline Bruce, of the accountancy company, both bedrooms will be on the first floor, with a kitchen and lounge on the ground floor.
All first floor windows, except one, face onto Maryport Street, and one bedroom will overlook a small garden and, indirectly, the backs of properties on Bridge Street.
As the room was previously an office it would have been occupied during the day and Ms Bingham said a bedroom is “unlikely to be occupied for as much time” meaning the change of use is likely to reduce the “degree of overlooking of neighbouring properties”.
No off road parking is planned, and there isn’t any for the existing office, but there is street parking available in the town centre and a free public car park “within easy walking distance”.
The report says as up to five people work in the building, which Ms Bingham describes as a “solicitors office”, which also receives visitors so a two-bedroom flat is likely to result in less demand for parking.