BLAENAU Gwent council’s plans to replace a Gypsy and traveller site with a more modern site have been rejected by its own planning committee.

Councillors were concerned that the expanding the Cwmcrachen site in Nantyglo to hold 28 pitches would exceed the 20-pitch limit recommended by the Welsh Government.

Planning officers said the recommendation could be waived if there were exceptional circumstances, namely to address the growing demand for Gypsy and traveller accomodation and a desire to keep families together.

While supportive of redeveloping the site, members were wary of going against Welsh Government guidance – despite a commitment by ministers to pay for the £4.5 million scheme.

Nantyglo councillor Keri Rowson said: “I’m very happy that the new site is being redeveloped but the new plan is far too big.


“The Welsh Government guidance mentions exceptional circumstances, but I can’t see any here. I feel like the authority should explore other angles.”

Councillor Wayne Hodgins said there was an “ambiguity” about the Welsh Government paying for the project despite the plans being contrary to its own advice.

South Wales Argus: A site plan for the proposed expansion and redevelopment of Cwmcrachen's Gypsy and traveller site near NantygloA site plan for the proposed expansion and redevelopment of Cwmcrachen's Gypsy and traveller site near Nantyglo

Councillor Bernard Willis argued that the guidance should be exceeded, but he took issue with the site expanding into land that could be better used for industrial purposes.

The council had received a letter of objection purported to be from tenants of the neighbouring Barleyfield industrial estate.

Cllr Willis added said: “There is a factory that is in close proximity that is probably going to expand, and what we’re crying out for in this borough is manufacturing.”

A group of families living on the settlement, which has existed for more than 200 years, had urged the committee to back the council’s proposals.

In a letter written after the committee deferred a decision on June 7 in favour of a site visit, they said the delay had “distressed” some residents.

“The deteriorating accommodation and facilities are in desperate state of repair at the current site,” says the letter.

A council spokesman said: “There are a number of potential options including an appeal, or resubmit a further application in an attempt to address the reason the planning committee gave for refusing planning permission, or indeed none of the above and not proceed with the scheme.”