Plan to build homes on site of old council offices to go before committee

A council's plans to build 32 one-bedroom flats will be decided by councillors next week.

How the flats planned for the Robert Owen House site in Newtown could look.
How the flats planned for the Robert Owen House site in Newtown could look.

The Powys County Council scheme is earmarked for the site of the former Robert Owen House council offices at Park Lane in Newtown, and all the flats are to be affordable homes.

The application will go before the planning committee on Thursday, as the proposal comes from Powys County Council’s own housing services department, and has been deemed a “major application”.

Senior planning officer Kate Bowen said: “The development is considered to make an efficient use of land in terms of density and is located on previously developed land within a sustainable location within the development boundary of Newtown.

“The development will provide a housing type which is identified by evidence as needed in the locality and affordable housing can be secured as part of the development.

“The design is considered appropriate to its context and all other material planning issues have been addressed or can be addressed via the use of conditions.

“In addition, the development is considered to meet key principles of the Newtown Place Plan for residential development.

“The development is considered to comply with local and national planning policy and guidance and the recommendation is one of approval.”

The site is one of several plots of land owned by Powys County Council that was transferred over form the property department and farm estate to the housing service in 2020 as part of a bid to build 250 homes by 2023.

In planning documents submitted with the application, agents Asbri planning Ltd said that local need is overwhelmingly for one-bedroom flats.

Data shows that in July 2021, when a pre application consultation on the proposals was taking place, there were 317 applicants on the Powys housing register who wanted a one-bedroom property in Newtown.

The register also showed 137 applicants for two-bedroom properties with a preference for a house rather than a flat, 50 for a three-bedroom property, 24 for a four-bedroom property and two applied for a five-bedroom property.

Asbri said: “The redevelopment of this brownfield site will allow for much-needed delivery of one-bed affordable flats, thus reducing the overall requirement slightly.”

If the application is successful, a further sustainable drainage application (SuDS) will need to be approved before building work can start.

In the summer of 2019, it emerged that Robert Owen House, which had offices used by social services staff as well as supported housing, had been closed due to a broken boiler.

As the boiler could not be fixed, staff were moved out to work elsewhere.

The redundant building was eventually demolished in April 2021.

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