Industrial Pension Fund of Legal & General

Authority: Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

Proposed Development: The hybrid application comprised of a full planning application for restaurant (Unit 1 Class A3 McDonald’s 415sqm); and outline planning application for retail units 2, 3 and 4 (Unit 2 Class A1 Convenience food store 1,392sqm retail; Unit 3 Class A1 Comparison 1631 sq m, and a flexible use for Unit 4 Classes A2/A3 121 sqm).  

Planning Issues:

The former NMC factory created a significant eyesore within the Brynmawr townscape and had laid vacant for over 2 years.  This site formed part of a wider site allocation for mixed uses (residential, leisure and commercial) in the adopted LDP and was referred to as ‘the Link site’.  The aspirations for the site, was to create a link from the Asda retail park in the south (an out of centre retail development) to Brynmawr Town Centre.  The link was considered important to assist with the town centre, which was in decline with many shoppers opting for the retail park.  The authority expressly wanted to have non-retail uses to prevent further competition for the town centre and for both the former NMC factory site and the Stage Coach depot site to be delivered together.  

Several redevelopment options had been previously presented to Blaenau Gwent authority.  Kathryn Williams undertook research to provide IPIF with a commercially viable planning strategy, which was to deliver a retail-led scheme.  IPIF only owned the former NMC factory site and consequently only wanted to take forward this site in isolation for a retail-led scheme.  Kathryn built a strong rapport with Planning Officers and the Brynmawr Business Forum following initial negative responses to the pre-application meetings and consultation event.  A strong case was made to demonstrate the retail would not impact on the town centre and that the site could be developed in isolation to the Stage Coach depot.

The site is edge of centre and a full Retail Impact and Need Assessment was prepared, as well as a Sequential Assessment.  Kathryn collaborated with key stakeholders, including the Brynmawr Business Forum and the Town Council to overcome resistance to the scheme.  A good relationship was formed with the Officers at Blaenau Gwent and a positive result delivered.

Result:

Planning permission was approved on 11th April 2017, after Members unanimously voted in favour of the Officer’s recommendation at Planning Committee.  Kathryn led the project team (Franks + Toms; Curtins; Hydrock; Wildwood Ecology; Wharton Tree Consultants) in delivering the planning process.