Activists fighting to save a grand 140-year-old house in Newtown have received a major blow this week after county councilors approved how a developer plans to demolish the building and develop the site.
Powys County Council’s Planning Committee met on Thursday August 18 and voted in favor of Officer Rhian Griffiths’ recommendation that advance notification was not required after the developer had given sufficient notice. information on Croesawdy’s method of demolition and the proposed restoration of the site at New Road.
This means planning permission will not be required for the demolition of the building, and protesters will instead have to pin their hopes either on Cadw, who is considering listing the residence of the former factory owner, or on a other form of protection that would require a formal request to the Council.
Plans submitted by claimant Harry Bowen, of Mid Wales Property Ltd, say demolition is expected to take place over 10 weeks from October 10 this year, which would include all properties, outbuildings, walls, fences, garden and trees within the limits of Crosawdy.
READ MORE: Newtown residents launch petition to save home from demolition
In late July a demolition notice was placed on the occupied property, which councilors heard was in ‘good condition’, and has since angered local residents who fear another part of Newtown’s heritage be lost forever.
Nine planning committee councilors voted in favor, two abstained and one voted against after the bid was “called out” by Newtown councilor Joy Jones following a local outcry. Councilor Elwyn Vaughan, who was the only member of the committee to object, called for transparency and openness regarding the request which is an “emotional issue locally and there is a lot of hard feelings about heritage, potentially, and the history of this building and its sense of place”.
“I think we should have waited for Cadw’s response to get the full picture, as there is a strong feeling that things are being rushed,” Cllr Vaughan said. “I know there is a time limit, but in the interest of openness and transparency, I think it would be very beneficial.
“My problem is that it is too late for Cadw listing after we have been given the green light for demolition and so it would make more sense to say there is a need for full application and that would allow time for Cadw’s answer and would allow transparency to be seen and happen rather than literally being bulldozed.
The decision came as the council had yet to receive an official response from Cadw as to whether Croesawdy had any particular architectural or historical interest in Wales for him to be considered for listed status. However, planning officer Peter Morris told councilors that ‘the objective and the consideration is not to save the building, it is to know whether demolition of the building is acceptable or not’.
“We have a 28-day clock which, by default, will make this demolition possible if we don’t make a decision,” Mr Morris said.
“There is a means of registration or a temporary provisional list where an approach could be made to the authority and that is called a building preservation notice. I don’t think we’ve had that approach to our knowledge, so that’s an alternative. But it is a separate consideration from this notification that is before us today.
He added: “If the building was already listed, we could still be sitting here with a demolition notice and we would have to decide whether or not the means of demolition and restoration were acceptable. Still another consent would be required if it was a listed building.
Councilor Karl Lewis, chairman of the committee, asked if the historic features of the building could be saved before the developers “destroyed everything and put it in a dumpster”.
Councilor Heulwen Hulme added that the redevelopment of the former Bear Hotel in Broad Street, Newtown, which was turned into a shopping center in the 1980s, was needed to incorporate part of the hotel’s frontage.
She said: ‘We have seen some of the interior features that remain at Croesawdy – that concerns me as they look historic and very attractive and match the period of the property. I think there is a lot to lose inside the property.
Councilors were told by planning officers that they had ‘no confirmation on whether they would save anything’.
The majority of Planning Committee members voted in favor of the officer’s recommendation regarding permitted development.
how they voted
For: Karl Lewis (Llandinam with Dolfor, Welsh curators); Gareth D. Jones (Llanfair Caereinion and Llanerfyl, Independent); Deb Edwards (Llangunllo with Norton); Heulwen Hulme (Rhiwcynon, independent); Peter James (Llanwrtyd Wells, independent); Gareth E. Jones (Llanelwedd, Independents for Powys); Iain McIntosh (Yscir with Honddu Isaf and Llanddew, Welsh curators); Geoff Morgan (Ithon Valley); Gwynfor Thomas (Llansantffraid, Welsh Conservatives).
Abstention: Tom Colbert (Bronllys and Felin-fach, Welsh Liberal Democrats); Corinna Kenyon-Wade (Knighton and Beguildy, Welsh Liberal Democrats).
Versus: Elwyn Vaughan (Glantwymyn, Plaid Cymru)