Senior councillors are to consider making a Compulsory Purchase Order to buy up homes on one of Wales’ most polluted streets and ensure they are knocked down on schedule.
Caerphilly County Borough Council has agreed to buy and demolish 23 properties on the A472 in Hafodyrynys – where nitrogen dioxide levels have been recorded as the highest in the UK outside central London – to improve air quality targets in the shortest possible time.
Demolishing properties in Woodside Terrace, Woodside Shops and Yr Adfa at Hafodyrynys Road, will allow a footpath to be realigned and the project to be completed by December, 2021.
The council is to offer residents on the street 50% above the market rate for the purchase of their homes, to ensure they do not lose out financially.
Negotiations between some residents and the council have already begun, after valuations of the houses were independently verified.
But to ensure the authority completes the project on schedule, the council says a compulsory purchase process is required.
“Whilst many of the residents at the site have shown willingness to voluntarily dispose of their interests in the site to the council, a compulsory purchase process is required to ensure the preferred option is delivered within project time scales and compliance is achieved with the air quality direction 2019 and the EU Ambient Air Quality Directive in the shortest possible time,” a council report says.
The report says it is ‘imperative’ the project remains on schedule, and that the consequences of not doing so could mean “a further direction from Welsh Government or potential litigation from external bodies.”
The council is currently looking into whether planning permission is required for the work.
But a report says there is a “strong likelihood” that much of the work will be allowed without needing permission, as it could be deemed an “improvement to the highway.”
Realignment of the footpath will allow for a new dual use path which will take residents from an area with current high levels of pollution in to a safe area that can be used for cycling and walking.
The scheme will also improve the appearance of the area at Hafodyrynys Road for residents remaining on the northern side of the A472 and visitors.
Caerphilly Council’s cabinet will meet on Wednesday to approve making a Compulsory Purchase Order “to acquire all interests in the land and buildings” of the properties in question.