CONTENTIOUS plans to build an “enormous” block of retirement apartments in a village have been turned down.

Monmouthshire Council’s planning committee rejected the scheme for an active living centre with 18 apartments for over 60s off Merthyr Road in Llanfoist, along with a courtyard, swimming pool and gym.

But 24 new bungalows for people aged over 55 have been given the green light near the village’s Brewers Fayre restaurant as part of a separate plan.

Council planning officers had recommended approval to demolish a building and replace it with the retirement apartment block at Greenfields, at the junction of Merthyr Road and Gypsy Lane.

But 55 objections raised concerns about its appearance and the loss of privacy for neighbours.

It was the second time the planning committee had voted to refuse the application from Ikaria Development Ltd, because when decisions go against officers’ recommendations, the matter is deferred and brought back to the next meeting for a final vote.

Despite the decision to reject the plan, the applicant will have the chance to appeal or to resubmit another application.

Local ward member Cllr Giles Howard (Welsh Con) told last week’s meeting: “The scale of it is enormous, that’s the main reason for refusal.”

He had previously referred to it as “trying to hide an elephant behind a napkin” and labelled it “inappropriate” for Llanfoist.

But Cllr Roger Harris (Welsh Lab, Croesonen, Abergavenny) disagreed, saying: “I was one of the two members of the planning committee to disagree with the fact that we should turn down this proposal last time.

“To my mind, the arguments put forward by the planners are perfectly valid and I see no reason, as I did last time, that we should not have agreed this scheme.”

Meanwhile, the same committee gave the go ahead for 24 new retirement bungalows beside the recently-opened Foxhunters Care Community care home, despite the scheme going against the council’s own Local Development Plan.

The application by Foxhunter Estates and Johnsey Estates was recommended for refusal by planning officers because the site had been allocated for employment land.

However, councillors backed it after hearing there was a “critical need” for accommodation to serve the over 55s in the county.

Again it was back before the committee for the second time after councillors had previously rejected their officers’ advice.

Cllr Howard said photos of the Iberis Road site showed “why a residential use might be more appropriate than an industrial one.”

Planning officer Craig O’Connor told the committee the development would not create enough jobs to be considered as a viable use for an employment site.

The 24 homes will be run by Foxhunter Estates, a sister company of Dormy Care Communities, which operates the nearby care home.

They will benefit from 24-hour emergency support and access to a range of leisure facilities already provided at the care home, which include a café, bar, hair salon and treatment rooms.