former scrum half pub in pontypool
The former Scrum Half pub in Pontypool Credit: Google Street View

Story by Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

PLANS to create new flats and bring a former town centre pub back into use have been approved. 

Planners have given the go-ahead despite the applicants failing to meet affordable housing policies, contribute to children’s play areas or leisure facilities, or provide information supporting their claim that doing so would make the scheme unaffordable. 

But Torfaen Borough Council said regenerating the former Scrum Half pub in Pontypool would contribute “to the preservation of the conservation area along with enhancing the viability and vitality of the town centre” and approved it. 

Planning officer Justin Jones said in a report as well as the benefits of bringing the building back into use the creation of an additional three flats, which triggered the requirement to request contributions to leisure facilities and towards affordable housing, would provide “much needed sustainable housing” which “outweighed” the need to secure the benefits. 

The bar area of the currently vacant Scrum Half will be reduced in size with only the front remaining as a commercial premises with the back forming a lounge/ kitchen area of a flat with two bedrooms on the first floor. 

A further two, two-bed flats would be created on the upper floors of the three storey end terrace Victorian building in Market Street. 

Plans to replace the front windows with UPVC have been amended to instead use painted green timber but UPVC will be used for the back windows with heritage approved material to replace wooden sliding sash windows. 

Newport-based applicants FDH Property described the building as having been “neglected” and said in its application: “The proposed works will significantly improve the building. The building appears unloved at present.” 

Its application indicated the commercial use would be as a pub but said that could “easily be changed to retail or café etc.” 

Mr Jones said in his report policies do protect community facilites such as pubs but the smaller commercial use is acceptable in the town centre and that there are similar facilities, including the next door Comrades Club, and other pubs nearby. 

He also considered the “agent for change principles” which aims to prevent existing businesses that generate noise, such as pubs, becoming subject to complaints if residential developments take place nearby. 

Mr Jones said: “The council’s environmental health section have been consulted and raise no objections to this proposal nor seek any conditions in mitigation, therefore the proposal is considered acceptable.” 

The council’s parking policy would require eight parking spaces but as the location is considered “highly sustainable” with public transport available it shouldn’t be refused on those grounds. It was also noted there is free public parking in the area.