PLANS to expand Chepstow’s Drill Hall have been unanimously supported by Monmouthshire County Council’s planning committee.

Councillors voted to approve the proposals yesterday which will extend the floor space by around 130 square metres to provide toilet facilities, a new reception area and circulation space.

Planning officer Phil Thomas told the meeting the proposals will create a “more modern feel” to the venue and a “more usable space.”

Some objections were made to the plans due to a possible loss of car parking space, the meeting heard.

However, Mr Thomas said the venue is in a sustainable location and there are hundreds of car parking spaces in public car parks nearby in the town.

The proposals could go ahead if a lottery bid of around £1million is successful.

The result of the Big Lottery Fund bid, which has been submitted, is expected later this month.

If it is successful the community arts venue is planned to be transferred as an asset from Monmouthshire County Council to Chepstow Town Council, who will then lease the venue to the Charitable Incorporated Organisation.

Cllr Louise Brown (Shirenewton) spoke in support of the plans.

She said: “The Chepstow Drill Hall is a good community and arts venue and improving this facility can only be good news for the town.”

Cllr Peter Clarke (Llangybi Fawr ward), vice chairman of the committee, said the Drill Hall is a “treasured building.”

Cllr Jez Becker (St. Mary’s ward) told the planning committee that the venue is a well-used facility and that the plans could help enhance it.

Cllr Becker asked the planning officers about an objection raised by a resident, who said the proposal would bring the bin storage area of the venue close to her home.

The resident raised concerns that during a hot spell of weather the area could smell.

However planning officers moved to assuage concerns, saying the concern was a perceived fear of what might happen but not what will transpire.

A council report prepared ahead of the meeting explains that the Drill Hall is next to a public, pay-and-display car park with 76 spaces.

The car park, which is currently free, has 40 spaces allocated for resident parking.

It is understood that the current licence for the Drill Hall allows a maximum of 250 people to be accommodated, seated for lecture, theatre shows and cinema screening, or 178 seated at tables with dancing.

This proposal would provide an extension capable of accommodating a further 60 people, seated in the proposed studio.

The plans, which were recommended for approval by planning officers, were unanimously supported.

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