PLANS to convert the ground floor of a former bank in Brynmawr into a shop and small flat have been given the thumbs up by Blaenau Gwent councillors.

At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Thursday, November 10 councillors looked at a proposal by Dewi Durban to change the use of a former bank at 55 Beaufort Street, Brynmawr.

Mr Durban wants to change the use of the former ground floor bank to provide a retail unit and ground floor flat.

The proposal also includes alterations to the front of the building to provide a new shop front, external wall insulation and new windows.

Planning officer Sophie Godfrey told councillors that the application had been brought in front of the committee for a decision as it goes against a policy which says that converting ground floor units in town centres should not be allowed.

Ms Godfrey said: “It is however considered that there are other material consideration which should be taken into account when determining this application.”

“The proposed flat would not face onto Beaufort Street or into the town centre it would be to the rear of the property where access will also be provided.

Due to this Ms Godfrey believed it would: “not harm the vitality and viability of the town centre,” it would also not be visible from the town centre.

Ms Godfrey added that the front of the property which has “fallen into a state of disrepair” would be renovated as part of the scheme.

She advised councillors to approve the plans.

Cllr Wayne Hodgins said: “I’m happy to see this redundant building coming back into use.”

Committee chairwoman, Cllr Lisa Winnett said: “It will be nice to see that shop being back into use, because the front is in disrepair, it’s a bit of an eyesore.

“It will be lovely to see that back.”

In January 2021 the Welsh Government environment body, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) published new stricter targets for phosphate levels in rivers that are Special Areas of Conservation (SACs).

One of these is the River Usk which had the highest level of phosphate failures with 88 per cent of its water bodies failing to hit the target

Brynmawr’s proximity to the River Usk has hindered development in the town.

Cllr John Hill said: “I’m more than happy as the phosphate issue has not got in the way of this – at one time these applicants were having problems.

“I’m not sure how that’s been overcome but I’m glad to see it has and fully support it.”

Councillors voted unanimously to approve the scheme and they will be given a briefing session soon to better understand the phosphates issue and how it affects development in Brynmawr.