CONDITIONS setting out how new houses can be built near a Waitrose supermarket despite flooding fears have now been agreed.
Councillors approved plans to demolish the 159-year-old Hebron Hall chapel and its adjacent community hall in Monmouth and replace it with two semi-detached homes and a row of five ‘mews houses’ in July despite being recommended to refuse the application.
Planning officers said as environmental body Natural Resources Wales had objected on flooding grounds, fearing the site would be under water in a worst case one in 1,000 year flood, they couldn’t recommend approval for “highly vulnerable” development such as housing.
Natural Resources Wales had said the “consequences of flooding couldn’t be mitigated”.
The chapel, which is set back from the town’s main shopping area, Monnow Street, and backing on to the Waitrose car park, has been unused since around 2000 and has been described as attracting anti-social behaviour.
Planning officer Amy Longford said the council had met its obligation to inform Natural Resources Wales of the committee’s intention to approve the application and the body is still of the view there are no conditions that could be imposed that would make the development “acceptable”.
But it said it conditions that could “reduce or manage down the consequences of flooding” included evacuation plans and “resilience or resistance measures” to be incorporated into the design.
It also suggested a restriction on ground floor occupation with “habitable rooms” are on the first floor, which is in line with the approved plans while those buying the properties will have to be notified of the flood risk.
Materials that can be salvaged from the building will also have to be presented to the council as a result of a condition imposed by the committee and a contract for the redevelopment of the site will have to be agreed before the chapel can be demolished.
Ms Longford also reminded the committee a legal agreement ensuring that two, two-bedroom homes would be affordable, has already been agreed with applicant Justin Bailey.
She said: “Overall the proposals represent a high quality and much needed redevelopment of a brownfield site in the town centre and this will address the issues of anti-social behaviour, improve the character of the conseravation area and provide much needed accommodation in the town centre and provide two affordable homes on site, which is unusual on such a small site.”
Committee chairman, Caerwent Conservative councillor Phil Murphy, said members had used “planning balance” to make a decision that “departed from national planning guidance”.
Dewstow member Tony Easson said: “Should there be this flood a big chunk of Monmouth would be flooded in any case.”
The Labour councillor said the committee had now been given conditions that could allow the development.
It was approved with 13 councillors voting in favour and one abstention.
Hebron Hall was built in 1864 as a Pentecostal chapel, and was designed by minister George Dobson. It was originally built for a Primitive Methodist congregation, and served that denomination into the 20th century.