Flats plan approved by councillors

A “very much needed” development for 32 one-bedroom flats has been approved by councillors.

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.

At Powys County Council’s planning meeting, plans from the authority's housing department to build 32 one-bedroom flats in Newtown were given the green light by councillors.

The scheme will be built the former Robert Owen House council offices at Park Lane in Newtown, and all the flats are to be affordable homes.

Principal planning officer Kate Bowen said: “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 decision to make all the homes affordable comes even though there is a requirement that only 20 per cent fall into the category, under the Local Development Plan.

Councillor Angela Davies said: “Is Powys County Council building to sell these at some point or for council housing as in rental property.”

Peter Morris said: “What we seek under the LDP is a 20 per cent contribution to affordable homes.

“In reality the housing authority is looking to deliver all of them as affordable.

“I don’t know for sure, but I suspect they will become part of the council’s housing stock and people on our waiting list will be eligible to occupy and rent.

“There is a condition in the report that the applicant has to come up with an affordable housing scheme and that will set out how they intend to manage the scheme.”

Councillor Elwyn Vaughan said: “This is a brownfield, so it is a good use of such a site rather than using green spaces.

“Housing demand is there and it’s convenient to all public services in Newtown therefore I am happy to move that we accept the recommendation.”

Councillor Heulwen Hulme said: “This is very much needed in Newtown and is going to meet a desperate need there as well – I would like to second the proposal.”

The councillors approved the plans unanimously.

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.

In the summer of 2019, it emerged that Robert Owen House that 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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