PLANS for 21 flats in a building currently being used as a job centre on the ground floor in Abergavenny have been rejected by Monmouthshire council.

Planning officers recommended refusal after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) revealed it has a long-term lease covering the Newbridge House building in Tudor Street up to April 2028 – with an option for the tenant to break the contract in 2023.


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Monmouthshire’s planning committee rejected the proposal at a meeting on Tuesday, with concerns it would result in the loss of the existing employment site and over the proposed height of the development.

But Robert Chichester, the agent for the applicant, told the meeting that the development would not prejudice the job centre’s current position.

Mr Chichester said the plan for flats was lodged in December, 2016, following confirmation that the DWP intended to leave the building to downscale.

Despite attempts to market the first and second floors, no new tenants have been found for several years, with only the ground floor in use.

However a new lease was signed in December, 2017 by the DWP after it was unable to find an alternative premises, the meeting was told.

Mr Chichester said the applicant was told the renewal of the lease would not prejudice the plans for flats.

“The issue of planning consent would not prejudice the tenant’s current position as they have a lease in place which can only be terminated with agreement of both parties,” he added.

Councillor Maureen Powell said it was a ‘shame’ to have a building only occupied on the ground floor, but at the same time she said there were concerns over increasing the building’s height and parking issues.

Councillor Giles Howard said the proposal could lead to the closure of the job centre, adding: “I think that is a concern to the people of Abergavenny.”

Disappointment was also expressed that no affordable housing contributions were proposed in the application.

Retirement apartments on the site of the former police station and magistrates’ court in Tudor Street were approved with an affordable housing contribution of £232,506 – despite the council originally asking for £732,032.

“If this went ahead that street would have two massive developments yielding only £250,000 in affordable housing contributions and that is a disgrace,” Cllr Roger Harris said.

Councillor Alan Davies said there would be nothing to stop the plans being reconsidered if the DWP eventually leave the building.