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Old School social housing plans put on hold for site visit

The Old School Site In Llwydcoed (Pic: Google Maps)

PLANS for social housing on The Old School site in Llwydcoed have been put on hold for a site visit.

The application is for the demolition of existing buildings and proposed development of four houses and four flats for the site in Merthyr Road but Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s planning committee on Thursday, March 21 decided to have a site visit.

Councillor Sharon Rees, the chair of the committee, called for the site visit because of concerns over increased traffic, a junction and the sustainability of the location and committee agreed to the site visit.

CJC Estates Ltd and Trivallis have put the plans forward which also include details of landscaping, bat roost mitigation, bin stores, bike stores, and other associated works.

The planning report  said plots one to six would be arranged in a terrace of four properties which would front onto Merthyr Road while plots seven and eight would form a semi-detached pair fronting onto Corner House Street.

All eight properties would benefit from off-street car parking provision to the side or front and private or shared amenity space to the rear and each unit would also benefit have an air source heat pump and solar panels.

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The site is currently occupied by a former primary school building with two other detached outbuildings.

The planning report said it was understood that the building was most recently occupied by a commercial business known as Tectonic International Ltd but the building is currently empty.

There were 21 letters of objection sent to the council from 18 people which raised concerns over access and parking, character and appearance, amenity and privacy, sustainability, ecology and tenure.

In terms of access and parking they said parking is already an issue in the area adding that there is not enough parking available for residents at the moment.

They said that traffic is already an issue and the proposal would make things worse over time and accidents are more likely to happen with parents attending the nearby school.

They said the junction is very dangerous and has limited visibility and that high speed traffic along Merthyr Road is an issue and more cars would be costly for the environment and carbon footprint.

The objectors said that they need to be mindful of pedestrians while Merthyr Road is an incredibly busy through-route and it is becoming increasingly busy as a result of the A465 road works and that access to and from existing houses in Merthyr Road is already problematic and dangerous.

In terms of character and appearance they said the development is high-density and over-development of the site and the development is not in keeping with the current aesthetic or surrounding housing stock.

They added that the Old school is a historic building which should not be demolished as this will detract from the character of the building.

On amenity and privacy they raised concern over the lack of privacy for properties directly opposite the site, that additional on-street activity and noise from extra vehicles will be a disturbance, and that the development would decrease air quality given increased emissions from additional vehicles which will affect children’s quality of life.

On sustainability they said social housing on this site is not sustainable in terms of local transport, there is no train service to Llwydcoed village, the local bus service is infrequent and is stopped early into the evening, and the local shop is a long walk with access via a steep hill.

In terms of ecology they said there is an issue over highly protected species and local wildlife and concerns are raised with tree felling and pruning.

They also raised concern in relation to the proposed tenancy of the development including the potential for crime, anti-social behaviour, drinking and abuse and the impact this will have on the safety of school children and existing residents.

They said there are already two estates in Llwydcoed which experience problems with tenants and that there is no need for affordable housing in the area.

They said the area is characterised by privately-owned dwellings which are large executive houses so a development for affordable housing would therefore not be in keeping with the area.

They also said that the proposal may have designed out the opportunity for crime and anti-social behaviour but “the tenure of the dwellings proposed have an association with increased levels of insecurity.”

In recommending approval planning officers said in their report: “The proposed development would enable the re-use of a previously developed site providing much-needed affordable housing within settlement limits and within a sustainable location.

“The proposed layout of the site and the scale and design of the proposed dwellings would be acceptable in the context of the surrounding area and, given that the existing building has been vacant for some time, it would also bring an under-used site back into beneficial use.

“The proposed use of the site for residential purposes is considered acceptable given that the site is situated in an area that is almost entirely residential in character and it is not considered that the development would be detrimental to amenity or privacy of neighbouring properties.

“Furthermore the development would provide a betterment in terms of highway safety with the proposal improving the junction radii and vision splay at the junction between Merthyr Road and Corner House Street and also with the road at Corner House Street being widened and a footway provided.

“Consequently the proposed development is considered to be acceptable in respect of the LDP and national planning policy framework.”

The developer will need to enter into a section 106 agreement to ensure the long-term maintenance and management of the proposed standalone bat roost building at plot eight.

The other requirement of the agreement is that the development would provide 100% affordable housing.

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