Fears B&B will end up as housing for the homeless

Saturday 5th February 2022 5:00 pm
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Aerial view of Church Road, Blaenavon Pic: GoogleMaps ()

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Residents have raised concerns after planners gave the go ahead for a long-closed down doctors surgery to be turned into an 18-bedroom B&B.

Some people fear the former Carreg Wen surgery in Church Road, Blaenavon, could become housing for the homeless, after a Torfaen Council planning officer approved the application despite saying it wasn’t clear whether it would be used for “temporary (emergency) accommodation”.

While the application by Abertillery builder Andrew Bolter said it would help accommodate tourists visiting the UNESCO World Heritage town, it also indicated that “local people who have no homes to go to” could stay there.

One woman posted: “There is definitely a need but whether this is the right location is another matter.”

A mother of young children added: “Can councillors who helped pass this planning assure that all and any residents situated in this accommodation will be suitably placed and assure us that no one will pose any potential risk to children please.

“Assurances need to be made here. Residents have not been informed about this plan.”

One poster also claimed that to allow a potential ’house in multiple occupation’ could even damage the town’s World Heritage status.

While accepting homelessness was a problem and somewhere was needed locally to house people, one woman said: “The real use of this building is being covered up with B&B as there should have been proper… reassurances given as to who would be placed there. People’s concerns should have been properly addressed.”

One poster stormed: “If it is going to be a HMO (House in Multiple Occupation), let people know that and be honest, so people can raise their concerns - using the B&B smoke screen is not on!”

Another poster added: “None of the neighbours were informed… some of the elderly neighbours are very concerned, some even thinking about moving house.”

The surgery was closed in 2011 with healthcare services transferred to a new community campus site at Middle Coedcae Road.

As part of the B&B plan, 11 bedrooms will be created on the site’s ground floor, with a further seven on the first floor.

A steel staircase on the outside of the building will also be erected to allow access to the first floor rooms.

A report to the council by the highways officer said: “The letter from the agent appears to be saying that this will not be run like a standard B&B, it seems that residents will be those looking for a temporary home and people in need of temporary support.”

And although the scheme was passed with conditions, the council planning officer said: “It is not entirely clear from the submission whether the proposal is for a tourist-related B&B facility, temporary (emergency) accommodation for individuals in housing need, short-term accommodation (for eg, infrastructure contractors who may be working locally in the area) or some combination of some or all of the above.”

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