Concerns have been raised over plans to build flats in Barry town centre without anywhere for residents to park.
An empty office on Regent Street is set to be knocked down with two two-bedroom flats built in its place, after councillors on the planning committee at the Vale of Glamorgan council voted on July 15 to approve permission.
The office used to be used by a time recorder company, which has recently relocated to the Barry Business Centre. Kevin Reaney, of South Wales Time Recorder, said he wants to sell the old offices.
But neighbours and councillors raised concerns about the lack of parking for future residents, as the building is close to the town centre with busy traffic; and the loss of office space.
Councillor Ian Johnson said: “The specific issue with this stretch of road is not so much the parking, but the fact that it’s used as a rat-run between Gladstone Road and Woodlands Road, and the impact that parking has upon the area. The parking around there exacerbates the situation.”
However, planning policy encourages homes to be built with zero parking spaces — if they are close to public transport and shops.
Vicky Robinson, Vale council planner, said: “It’s a very sustainable location, close to the town centre. There’s lots of shops and services close by, and access to public transport. Therefore, this is exactly the type of location where we can expect to see zero-parking schemes to be acceptable.”
The business has struggled to sell the offices without planning permission to reconvert the offices into flats, Mr Reaney told the committee.
Mr Reaney said: “We vacated the offices in March 2018 due to the building being unfit for our ever expanding company. The building itself is very old, with damp and poor insulation.”
He added the company began having larger deliveries which “brought the traffic to a standstill and was upsetting the locals. So we decided to move to the business centre in Barry. We placed the property on the market but have only received one enquiry, that wouldn’t make a genuine offer without planning permission in place.
“Unfortunately now due to Covid-19, our family’s business is financially suffering, and we’re hemorrhaging money on a daily basis. We could reinvest the proceeds back into the family business of 41 years — which has five families depending on its survival. The current building on Regent Street is an eyesore and unfit for purpose.”
But doubts were raised about the efforts to sell the building as offices.
Cllr Nic Hodges said: “I feel this building hasn’t been fully exploited as to any future business possibilities. While we’re very good in this council at housing people, we’re very bad at allowing people to be employed in this town. I’m concerned that we’re losing potential business opportunities.”
Kevin Irish, who lives nearby, said: “They’ve tried to deceive the committee by putting a high price on the building in an effort to stop it from being sold, so that they can repurpose it.”