AN octogenarian Tory councillor has slammed neighbours who objected to a house being used for supported living for five elderly women. 

Maureen Powell hit out at a local community councillor and a local resident, who claimed to be speaking “on behalf of the community”, saying she couldn’t see what the problem was with the women, who have learning difficulties, moving into the house. 

They have lived together, in another part of Abergavenny, for more than 20 years under a service run by the Pobl Group housing association which has bought the modern detached residential, six-bedroom house in Jasper Tudor Cresent, Llanfoist. 

It applied to Monmouthshire County Council for a certificate to confirm its planning use would remain as a dwelling house, but with support for up to six people living together.  Otherwise it would be classed as a care home and change of use planning permission would be required.

Such applications are normally routinely considered by planning officers but objections from 23 homes and Llanfoist Fawr Community Council forced the application before Monmouthshire County Council’s planning committee. 

However Abergavenny Pen y Fal councillor Maureen Powell made it clear she had little time for the objections from residents that included the use would “devalue” other homes, look “unsightly” and emergency services would struggle to access it “due to narrow roads”. 

Concerns were also raised that the make up of the household could change over time, though the committee was told only one new service user had joined the group in the past five years and that was due to a death. 

Cllr Powell told the committee: “You can have a family of six, parents and four children, living in a house like this and things can change over time. 

“These people have lived together as a family, and no doubt they get on together just as well – probably better – than a natural family, I can’t see this is a problem at all. 

“I don’t know why people should mind that it’s five people, perhaps elderly, living in a house any more than a family living in a house? It seems to be to me people looking for difficulties. 

“I hope that I don’t have to go into any sort of care, I’m 86 now, I’m sure I hope I can carry on the same as I am now. Nobody knows what the future holds but those five people have lived together as a family for that length of time so I’m sure they are perfectly able to live together as a family there. 

“I can’t see what problem it is to the neighbours? Are they going to have big wild dances or something? I just don’t see where their objections are coming from. I think it’s a very good idea and there should be more places like it.” 

Labour councillor for Cantref, Sarah Burch added it would be “entirely wrong”  to make a judgement on care needs and said: “Anyone of us could need care in our homes at any time of our lives.” 

She also questioned if the committee would be considering the application if “five individuals, with able bodies and able minded had chosen to live together?” 

The application to grant the certificate and that no planning application was necessary, was unanimously approved in line with the officers’ recommendation.

Planner Amy Longford said a case involving North Devon council, which objectors had highlighted, resulted in a judge deciding change of use planning application for a similar property was required as it involved children. 

The judge had ruled children can’t form a household on their own but Ms Langford said the council was satisfied the group in Abergavenny form a single household and their 24 hour support, with one member of staff on a rota basis, is present to assist them living independently. 

Gareth Jones, of Llanfoist Fawr Community Council, said it objected to the application and Tom Wyatt, who said he was addressing the committee “on behalf of the community”, insisted the house should be considered a “residential institution”. 

Labour Cllr Tony Easton said he objected to comments, submitted in writing from the public, there was a potential risk to children.