Posted: Wed 24th Apr 2024

Council Approves Controversial Home Bargains Store Development in Ebbw Vale /

BLAENAU Gwent councillors had given planning permission to build a Home Bargains store in Ebbw Vale at a site which was once described as the most important in Wales for Lapwing birds,
The proposal on land at Rhyd y Blew, Beaufort Road could create 100 jobs and was discussed by at Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Planning committee meeting on Tuesday, April 23.
The new store is set to be sandwiched between the Morrisons supermarket and the B & M store on the out of town site.
The report explains that historic planning permission going back nearly 30 years for a retail development is still in existence and ground works were started there in 2006.
The new scheme would be smaller than the one approved in 2006 and according to the planning report would pose less of a threat to the future of Ebbw Vale town centre.
Planning officer Joanne White recommended that councillors approve the scheme.
Cllr Lee Parsons reminded councillors that 28 years ago the land was “given up” by the council for future development.
Cllr Parsosn said, “This was the single most important site in Wales for Lapwings.”
He added that 55 pairs of Lapwings had been found here.
Cllr Parsons said: “This was classed at the time by TV presenter and naturalist Iolo Williams as political vandalism by this authority.
“I just hope going forward that this authority never gets accused of that again.”
“How many birds would be there now if this had never have happened,” wondered Cllr Parsons.
Cllr David Wilkshire said: “I supported the Lapwings being kept on site and doing what we could – we hoped they would go up to Trefil.
“I support the development it’s been overdue for a while.
“We know the other side of the road needs to be developed in the future and this is a catalyst for other things to come.”
Cllr Julie Holt wanted to know what “evidence” had been provided that the new store would not affect the Home Bargains shop in the town centre?
Cllr Holt said: “This is duplication of provision.
“I find it difficult to believe that you can run two of the same stores.”
The committee were told that the different types of customers would be expected to shop at the stores, with the town centre Home Bargains shoppers being “basket” while those at Rhyd y Blew would be “trolley” shoppers.
Home Bargains also have the freehold and own their town centre store and have “no intention” of closing it.
Planning policy officer Hayley Spender said: “We have considered the retail impact assessment, and we did go back to the developer seeking more information.
“We were satisfied that this scheme would have less of an impact on our town centre as the extant planning permission is for 13 retail units of comparable size to town centre units.
“They have assured us that it is a model they do run.”
She added that Home Bargains had out of town and town centre stores at both Bridgend and Llanelli.
Committee chairwoman, Cllr Lisa Winnett reminded councillors that they have to deal with every application that comes before them on their own merit.
Cllr Winnett said: “We all want to see our town centres thriving, but we have no control over the shops if they decide to close.”
The committee then moved to a vote and unanimously backed the scheme. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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