The closure of a day centre for people with learning difficulties is set to be confirmed so a council can beat a deadline and sell it off for housing.
The Tudor Day Centre in Abergavenny has been closed since March 2020 when Monmouthshire County Council shut its day centres in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
But the authority, which launched a review of its My Day My Life support services for adults with learning difficulties in September, now wants to take a decision to confirm the permanent closure of the Tudor Street building.
The review isn’t due to report until March and the council fears that could mean changes to planning rules, due to come into force from June, would make it harder for it to redevelop the building and use the site for affordable housing.
As a result the council’s cabinet member for social care, Abergavenny Park councillor Tudor Thomas, is being advised to make a decision on the property even though the council ordered review of social care has yet to report back.
A report, by social care chief Jane Rodgers, said it is anticipated the Tudor Centre will no longer feature in its plans with the service “working on the assumption that Tudor Street is no longer fit for purpose”.
Before the temporary closure of the Tudor Centre, in 2020, some six to 10 people were using it as part of their My Day My Life care and support plan with numbers having dropped from around 18. The council had also taken the decision, before the pandemic, to reduce opening days, from five to three, as more users were accessing services either at home or elsewhere in the community.
But Ms Rodgers says there is an urgency in deciding on the future use of the Tudor Centre as it is feared new planning guidance may no longer allow the redevelopment of brownfield sites, those which are already in use, in areas considered at risk of flooding.
The report is also clear the council is keen to sell the site and states: “The imperative on the council to make maximum use (of) all its available assets has become even more critical given the current financial and economic situation.”
The council which wants half of a possible 2,000 new homes planned for Monmouthshire over the next 11 years to be affordable, with 68 per cent available for social rent, is also keen to use brownfield sites in the north of the county as there is a block on new developments due to phosphate pollution of the rivers Wye and Usk.
The report states: “This sustainably located brownfield site represents an ideal opportunity to deliver affordable housing.
“The lawful planning use means there is a fallback position in terms of phosphates which it is hoped means this development can proceed promptly.
“Development of this site would be policy compliant under current flood risk policy but there is ongoing uncertainty about whether or not the awaited amended TAN15 policy will allow for the redevelopment of brownfield sites in areas at flood risk after June 2023.”
The report also states the council had wanted to “test” its assumptions the Tudor Centre would no longer be required but evidence supports that view and there is “an urgent and pressing need for affordable housing”.
It lists a number of problems with the centre including its large size making it unsuitable for person-centred support and the need for “considerable renovation” and its high running and maintenance costs.
The council is assessing its potential for redevelopment and a planning application could be made “shortly” and the site sold to a housing association.
Cllr Thomas is being recommended to approve the closure with a decision due on Wednesday, November 30.