CONTENTIOUS plans to build housing on a greenfield site close to a village church in Monmouthshire have been backed for approval, but the council has been blocked from granting planning permission.

Monmouthshire council planners have recommended approval of the proposal for 12 affordable homes on a field in Llantilio Pertholey, despite strong opposition.

But a Welsh Government directive has been issued preventing the council from granting planning permission.

The directive has been issued to allow consideration of whether the plans should be determined by Welsh ministers, instead of the council, following a request for the plans to be ‘called-in.’

Six two-bedroom houses and six three-bedroom houses are proposed on a grazed field which slopes from Hereford Road to the River Gavenny.

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The proposal goes against the council’s Local Development Plan (LDP) as the site is located outside of the Abergavenny development boundary.

But a planning report recommending approval says the site could be “considered an exception” as it is 100 per cent affordable housing, and just outside the development boundary.

The report says the council is struggling to meet its affordable homes target, and there is “a significant need for affordable housing in Abergavenny”.

“This proposal provides a 100 per cent affordable housing scheme in a sustainable location that would benefit people in need of this type of housing,” it adds.

But the scheme has faced opposition, with more than 30 residents objecting, alongside others such as Gwent Wildlife Trust, Llantilio Pertholey Community Council, Abergavenny and District Civic Society and campaign group SORE (Save Our Rural Environment).

Monmouth Senedd member Nick Ramsay has also written to the council with concerns over the plans.

In its objection, SORE said the “community is united in opposing this development”.

“Monmouthshire County Council should look to develop brownfield sites and should not be considering a housing development outside the development boundary, on a green field site, part of which has SINC [Site of Importance for Nature Conservation] status, next to a Grade-I listed church,” it said.

The site is located close to the listed St Teilo’s Church, as well as a Grade-II listed memorial cross and a Grade-II listed double chest tomb.

Objectors say the proposed homes would “overpower the setting of the church”, but council planners say there will be “no detrimental impact” due to the contained nature of the site and its distance from the church.

South Wales Otter Trust has also said that the area is being used by otters and recommended a full survey.

Monmouthshire council’s planning committee is due to decide the plans at a meeting next Tuesday.

However a Welsh Government direction, issued on December 17, prevents the council from granting planning permission.

The direction does not stop the council from refusing permission, or continuing to consult on the application.