PLANS to find a new use for a medieval church near Newport have been put on hold due to "critical information" missing in a flood risk assessment.

Newport councillors voted to refuse planning permission for an application to convert Whitson Church, known locally as St. Mary’s Church, into a two-bedroom home at a meeting on Wednesday.

The grade-II* listed church with origins from the 12th century, underwent extensive restoration and reconstruction during the Victorian period but has laid vacant since 2002.

It is said to be in a 'declining' condition and has been placed on the council’s register for Buildings at Risk.

The plans sought to prevent the building falling into further disrepair but council planning officers and Natural Resources Wales raised "significant concerns" related to flooding.

Deborah Johnson, representing the applicant, said the potential risks needed to be put in context.

Ms Johnson said the risk of flooding from surface water was low and that there was no record of flooding at the site since a tsunami in 1607.

The meeting heard that flood barriers would be in place at both ends of the building, and that living space in the tower could be used as refuge in the event of flooding.

"We believe that more consideration needs to be given to the preservation of the listed building and that in this particular case the importance of retaining the building outweighs the flooding concerns," Ms Johnson said.

"Whitson church withstood the 1607 tsunami but if viable reuse for the building cannot be found it will be lost."

However Joanne Davidson, from the council's planning team, acknowledged the merits of the scheme, and the need to protect the building, but said that "critical imformation" was missing.

Ms Davidson said that it was not known how long it would take for water to reach the property if the seawall was breached.

She also said it was not known how long residents would have to get out of the home in the event of flooding.

Cllr Miqdad Al-Nuaimi said there were positives in the application but that the council has a responsibility to ensure the concerns are addressed.

He said: "We can't take the risk of putting a family in danger when there is that risk."

Cllr David Fouweather said the applicant needed to go away and find out the extra information, adding it would be a shame for the building to 'disappear.'

Ms Davidson said planning officers would encourage further discussions with the applicant on the scheme to try and reach a solution.