PLANS to convert two properties in Tredegar into children’s care homes have been unanimously approved by Blaenau Gwent councillors.
But questions have been raised on whether the council has the money in place to buy them.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Thursday, March 9, councillors looked at a proposal submitted by the authority itself.
The council wants to turn two detached houses, called Madison House and Mon Calpe, which are located off Picton Road, Dukestown, into care homes for up to four youngsters.
As the meeting started, three councillors, Derrick Bevan, Wayne Hodgins and David Wilkshire all declared an interest in the item.
Cllr Wilkshire explained that the care homes proposal had been discussed in a previous council meeting.
Cllr Wilkshire said: “The report came before us and we all agreed it was excellent and something we welcomed.
“Wouldn’t that have been better to come after (the planning meeting) as I’m not able to speak on it.”
Planning committee legal advisor Sally-Ann Evans said that Cllr Wilkshire could say that he is in favour of the application before the debate starts and then “refrain from voting.”
Planning officer Sophie Godfrey explained that the application was in front of the committee for a decision due to several objections had been sent to the council had from neighbouring properties.
These included fears of anti-social behaviour from the children who would live there.
Ms Godfrey explained that the “intention” is to create an environment that allows children and staff to live together as a single family.
“It is envisaged the children will attend local schools and healthcare facilities,” said Ms Godfrey.
She added that the number of objections had gone up from the 20 noted in her report to 22 and advised councillors to approve the scheme.
One objector, Glyn Evans spoke at the meeting on behalf of local residents.
Mr Evans said: “I was informed there was a deadline on the grant from the Welsh Office of February 27 and I would like to know if that has been extended?
“If it hasn’t been extended then you’re out of time.”
Planning committee chairwoman, Cllr Winnett said: “I’d like to stop you there, it’s a matter for a different department regarding the grant and purchasing of the buildings.
“That is to do with Social Services and not a planning matter.
“All we are here to deal with is the application, nothing to do with the grants.”
Mr Evans said: “Nobody is against a children’s home but it’s smack bang in the middle of a residential area which is not the right place to be.
“If you want to put a (children’s care) home somewhere in Tredegar then why don’t you use Glan yr Afon surgery down the bottom end of town which is ready and cheaper than buying these two houses for £1 million.”
Cllr Winnett stressed again that these were “not material planning consideration” for the committee to think about.
“We can only go on the applications that been brought forward, said Cllr Winnett.
Soon after the committee went to a vote and backed the proposal unanimously.