Councillors call for U-turn over affordable housing plans
News | Emily Gill - Local Democracy Reporting Service | Published: 16:18, Monday June 29th, 2020.
Last updated: 10:36, Tuesday June 30th, 2020
Three Labour councillors have asked Caerphilly County Borough Council’s planning committee to do a U-turn over controversial plans for up to 125 homes on the site of former council offices in Pontllanfraith.
A further report on the scheme will be submitted to the next planning committee on July 8 with reasons for refusal, which will allow councillors to decide whether to formally reject the application.
However, three Labour councillors – Jamie Pritchard, Roy Saralis and Carl Thomas – said they hope the planning committee will change their mind as the application provides “urgently needed” affordable housing for families in the county borough.
The councillors all said if this brownfield planning application was ratified for refusal at next month’s planning committee, it would send a completely wrong message to those families most in need of housing.
Cllr Pritchard said “We have around 4,500 people on the council housing waiting list.
“These families are in need of new council and low-cost affordable housing.
“As a Labour Party we should be unequivocal when it comes to building new social housing on brownfield sites that the local population can afford.”
Cllr Saralis said the housing application was the best opportunity he’s seen in the last eight years to provide social housing.
The Chartist Gardens scheme, a collaboration between the council and housing association Pobl, included 83 affordable homes, but it faced opposition over its impact on the neighbouring Sir Harold Finch Memorial Park.
The park was named in memory of the former MP who represented Bedwellty between 1950 and 1970, and it was designated a site of special scientific interest in 1987.
A petition to save it from housing development was signed by 1,308 people, saying building on the site would “alter the landscape forever.”
A planning report said the housing plan would encroach onto 1.4 hectares of the park, which is around 13% of its overall area.
Independent councillor Kevin Etheridge said he wasn’t opposed to the homes being built on the site but opposed the loss of open space.
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