An overhead view of the proposed development at the Greenway Club
An overhead view of the proposed development at the Greenway Club Credit: Torfaen Council planning file

A SOCIAL club that has been vacant for around three years is to be demolished and replaced with 12 affordable homes. 

The Greenway Club in Griffithstown, Pontypool has been described as in a “dilapidated state” and Torfaen Borough Council officers said they were satisfied that with just one enquiry about purchasing it, since it was marketed for sale or rent in 2022, the loss of a community facility is acceptable. 

Housing association Melin Homes has been given permission, subject to legal agreements, to build a block of nine, one-bedroom apartments on the site of the former club and two, two-bedroom houses alongside a three-bedroom house at either end of L-shaped plot, which is set back from Greenway Drive. 

The club is also home to a roost for pipistrelle bats and Melin Homes will require a licence from Natural Resources Wales, to demolish the building which is understood to be a large Victorian era home. 

Planning officer Justin Jones told the council’s planning committee further surveys will be required to decide the mitigation measures required which he said is likely to be within the new building rather than a separate bat house.  

A structural survey found the building couldn’t be redeveloped without significant cost that would make the scheme unaffordable but it can’t be demolished until measures to protect the bats are in place. 

Pontnewydd councillor Stuart Ashley said he supported the application as it will provide affordable housing but wanted reassurance about the bats and questioned if they roosted in the building or in the protected Red Cedar tree that will remain but will be pruned due to previous poor management of it. 

Some trees will be felled but an Oak tree will also be added to the site along with “upright urban trees”. 

Labour member Cllr Ashley said: “I’m in favour of it we are desperate for more housing and will get quite a lot out of this building and it looks good.” 

He described the Red Cedar as “amazing” and that bats would enhance the environment for future residents: “Pipistrelles are tiny, little things they look like flying mice, they are beautiful things and will be really pleasant for residents to be frank. We’ve got them where I live and they really are a joy this time of year.” 

There will be 16 parking spaces for the development but Llantarnam independent Cllr Alan Slade said he thought that was two short of what is required under the council’s parking standards. Mr Jones said the policy now is that there is a maximum figure but no minimum. 

Cllr Slade said he considered that “quite a shift” in policy and said: “I don’t think it’s particularly satisfactory.” 

Pontypool Labour member Cllr Gaynor James said: “This is desperately needed affordable housing, the design is absolutely gorgeous and I love the garden that goes with it.” 

The committee unanimously agreed to approve the application, subject to a legal agreement the houses are affordable and there is a financial contribution to play facilities. Conditions still to be agreed include details on a cycle storage area.