Councillors have approved plans for 57 homes in Porthcawl on the unused site of a former independent school.
Members of Bridgend County Borough Council voted in favour of developer Taylor Wimpey UK building 57 homes on the site of the now closed St John’s School in Newton, Porthcawl.
The homes will be built on a 2.5 hectare site upon which there are currently a number of vacant buildings and playing fields that were previously used by the school.
Councillors granted Taylor Wimpey permission to build nine three-bedroom houses, 40 four-bedroom houses and eight affordable homes comprising of one-bedroom flats.
The affordable flats will be situated in two two-storey apartment blocks on the north-eastern part of the site. There will be a vehicle entry point from Birch Walk and a pedestrian/cyclist route through to Church Road.
St John’s School stopped operating in 2014 and the building has been empty since. In June 2020, a fire damaged the rectory building once used by the school, prompting a joint investigation between South Wales Police and South Wales Fire and Rescue Service.
As part of the development the old school building and rectory will be demolished. According to a council report, the rectory will be “re-located and rebuilt with the same character and architectural features” at the site entrance.
Garages and off-street parking spaces will be built for residents on the development as well as a paved courtyard surrounded by a stone wall leading to green/public open space.
The new homes will be two-storeys high consisting of detached and semi-detached buildings with detached garages.
The plans for the homes includes nine house types all built from a mix of materials such as concrete grey roof tiles, stone cladding, UPVC windows/doors and aluminium up and over garage doors.
As part of the planning agreement, poor quality and dangerous trees will be removed from the site while better quality trees will be protected.
According to a council report, plans for the development were met with “a large number of objections” including responses from MS Suzy Davies, MP Dr Jamie Wallis and the Porthcawl Civic Trust Society.
A council report revealed Porthcawl Civic Trust Society objected to the plans on the grounds the development would “permanently destroy the character and setting of the church and historic assets of the surrounding area and will make a nonsense of the conservation area”.
The report also revealed independent councillor Ken Watts said he was not opposed to the demolition of the rectory because “it has little historical interest and has insignificant architectural impact on the conservation area”.
Other concerns included the size of the development, increased traffic and parking issues, the impact on ecology and wildlife, sustainability, flooding, noise and disturbance.
Councillors approved the plans for the development during a meeting on Thursday December 10.
During the meeting, Cllr Watts, who is also mayor of Bridgend Council, asked if there would be adequate healthcare provision for residents living in the new homes and if there would be enough street lights on the site. He also requested planning officers to include a condition that the proposed garages could not be used as small businesses.
A planning officer informed Cllr Watts no details had been submitted yet regarding street lights but they had been requested before the development begins.
Group manager for planning and development Jonathan Parsons said he was satisfied there won’t be any negative impact on healthcare provision as a result of the development. He added that it is “not necessary” to have a planning condition against people using running businesses from their garages as this requires planning permission anyway.
As part of the planning agreement, Taylor Wimpey will contribute £75,450 towards the local children’s play area and give £8,000 to fund a Road Traffic Order to introduce a 20mph zone at the development site.
Independent councillor Amanda Williams asked where the play facilities will be.
Cllr Watts said it would be on the other side of the church about 200 yards away at Newton green.
Independent councillor Roz Stirman asked if the new rectory building would have bay windows, similar to those of the original building, and questioned how much the affordable homes would cost.
Council officers confirmed the new rectory will have bay windows. They could not give an exact figure on the cost of the affordable homes but said it would be in line with the value of the housing market during the time at which they are ready for sale.
Taylor Wimpey submitted a planning application to build 74 homes on the site in April this year but sent a revised proposal in November after concerns were raised with the original plan.