Plans to demolish a monastery in Flintshire and replace it with 15 new homes look set to be given the green light.
Last year, a group of nuns based at the Poor Clare Colettine Monastery in Hawarden took the decision to leave after spending 90 years in the village.
They said they had chosen to join members of their order in Nottingham because of mounting maintenance costs.
Eccleston Homes later submitted an application to knock down the buildings on Upper Aston Hall Lane and create 15 detached houses.
[Poor Clares Colettine Monastery]
The scheme has now been recommended for approval by a senior figure at Flintshire Council, despite the site being located on green barrier land.
Chief planning officer Andrew Farrow said there were “very exceptional circumstances” to justify the development, including the previous use of the existing properties as living accommodation.
In a report set to go before councillors next week, he said: “Members will be aware that the site was formerly in use as a monastery building.
“This use involved the residential occupation of the site by the members of the order situated within the monastery.
“The site has not been put to any intervening use since the cessation of occupation by the order and therefore the site benefits from an existing and extant lawful use for residential occupation.
“The site is located in close proximity to a range of services, including shops and schools; transport nodes including bus routes and rail station; and sits directly adjacent extensive and well equipped recreation grounds at Gladstone Fields.
“Accordingly, I conclude that these factors, taken in combination, are such that the very exceptional circumstances required to be demonstrated to support development of this form within a green barrier have been demonstrated.”
A handful of objections have been received by the council against the proposals.
They include concerns raised by Hawarden Community Council that it could lead to an increase in the number of cars using Upper Aston Hall Lane, which is used as a travel route by pupils attending Hawarden High School.
Mr Farrow said planning conditions would be put in place regarding access to the site if permission is granted.
A financial contribution of £55,000 is also being sought to address capacity issues at the secondary school.
In the planning documents, architects acting on behalf of the developers said the existing monastery buildings would need to be cleared as they are not suitable to be converted.
[Style of the four bed houses]
Representatives from Cass Associates said: “The complex of buildings date from the period following the Second World War.
“The extant buildings were designed and used to meet the particular requirements of the nuns.“The specific design, function and layout of the complex of buildings makes conversion to other viable uses impractical.
“The complex of buildings is not protected and are not of particular architectural significance.”
The application will be considered by the local authority’s planning committee at a meeting on Wednesday.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).