PLANS to convert a Jobcentre Plus building into 21 flats in Abergavenny look set to be rejected after planning officers changed their recommendation.

Last month, councillors deferred plans to turn the three-storey building, Newbridge House, into 15 two-bedroom and six one-bedroom flats.

Planning officers had recommended approval of the plans – though a report incorrectly stated that the building is unoccupied – when, in fact, it is used as a job centre on the ground floor.

A late intervention from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) also revealed that a long-term lease covering the entire building was signed in December, 2017.

The lease, which was unknown to planning officers, covers the period from April, 2018 to April 2028, with a a tenant-only break option in 2023.

Officers are now recommending the plans are refused as the lease shows there is a “viable business use for the site.”

“In light of the new information that provides an accurate and up to date position for the building, it is considered that the signing of this lease confirms that the building is suitable and well-located for employment use,” a report says.

The plans had previously been backed for approval on the basis of there being “no viable business employment use for the site.”

Officers had also said the building is “no longer suitable or well-located for employment use.”

The proposals include adding an additional storey to the building at the junction of Tudor Street and Baker Street in the centre of town.

Concern has been expressed by Abergavenny Town Council over “overdevelopment” and the height of the proposed housing block.

Objectors say there are no four-storey buildings in the town, though the application says “careful consideration” has been given to the proposed height.

The town council has called for more “imaginative” plans and has cautioned against a “rushed or careless decision” potentially setting a “bad precedent.”

Monmouthshire council’s highways department has also objected with concerns over parking.

A total of 21 car parking spaces are proposed, which is 15 below the council’s requirements.

Community group Abergavenny Transition Town say it would be “better to demolish and start again with a scheme that properly does justice to its site and location.”

A “high quality scheme” is promised to help enhance the area, according to the application, which will complement the redevelopment of Abergavenny’s old police station and magistrates’ court into retirement apartments.

Monmouthshire council’s planning committee will consider the application next Tuesday, November 5.