Residents fight new plans for 77 apartments on derelict High Street site in Bangor

Reporter:

Arron Evans

NEW proposals to build 77 apartments in Bangor are being fiercely opposed by people living nearby.

Plans submitted by Hughes Brothers Ltd to Gwynedd Council involve the construction of four buildings on the now empty former Jewson site at the very lower end of the High Street near Penlon Gardens.

Although it is unclear as to whether or not the flats will be specifically designed to house students, residents are still opposing the apartments as they believe that even if they are residential, they would not be affordable or they would intrude on their privacy.

A previous planning application by from Hughes Brothers of Llangefni for 161 student flats on the site was rejected in 2011 after strong opposition from Bangor City Council and residents, who staged protests and sent letters or emails of objection.

A further application was submitted in 2013 and the number of units was later reduced to 109, but this was rejected again, despite an appeal from the developers to the Welsh Government.

A spokesman for Gwynedd Council said: “Given that outline planning permission has previously been granted for residential flats at the former Jewsons site in Bangor the principle of residential development on the site has been established.

“The planning application will be presented to the council’s planning committee in due course and the application will be assessed in accordance with all the relevant local and national policies, having taking into consideration any other relevant material planning considerations.”

Heulwen Jones, who lives directly opposite the planning site, said: “To build as many flats as that just seems unnecessary in my opinion.

“It’s going to block the sunlight that comes in to my house and people living in the flats will be able to see directly into my kitchen from their windows, which makes me feel very uncomfortable.”

Last week Ms Jones took a petition opposing the plans around lower Bangor, including Ambrose Street and Fountain Street, and gathered more than 50 signatures.

“I’m pleased with the response that people in Bangor have given to this and I will now be sending this petition, along with all the responses, to Gwynedd Council,” Ms Jones added. At a meeting of the Bangor City Council on Monday evening, Cllr Keith Jones, who represents the Hirael ward, said he had listened to several concerns from his constituents regarding the plans, most of whom cited “lack of privacy, inadequate parking and affordability” as just three of the reasons as to why they opposed it.

“For me, these houses will not be ‘affordable’ to people living in my constituency,” Cllr Jones said.

“The average wage in the area is £20,000 per year, which would make an affordable mortgage around £60,000.

“However, the group who have proposed these plans are wanting double that and it’s just not achievable in this area in my opinion.”

The city council decided to object the proposal on the grounds that, firstly, there is insufficient parking available on the derelict site – where in August 2011 firefighters tackled a major blaze, started by arsonists – or nearby.

Secondly, they stated that the introduction of an additional floor it represents an over-development of the site and is not in character with the immediate area.

Finally, they argued that the application varies so much from the original approval that is clearly represents a new application and should be treated as such.

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