Campaigners fighting to save a large 140-year-old house in Newtown received a blow this week after county councillors approved how a developer plans to demolish the building and develop the site.

Powys County Council’s planning committee met on Thursday (August 18) and voted in favour of officer Rhian Griffiths’ recommendation that prior notification was not needed after the developer gave sufficient information about the method of Croesawdy’s demolition and the proposed restoration of the site in New Road.

It means planning permission will not be required for the building's demolition, and protestors will instead need to pin their hopes on either Cadw, which is considering whether to list the former mill owner's residence, or another form of protection which would require a formal application to the council.

Plans submitted by applicant Harry Bowen, of Mid Wales Property Ltd, state that the demolition is expected to take place over 10 weeks from October 10 this year which would include all the properties, outbuildings, walls, fencing, garden and trees within the boundary of Croesawdy.

READ MORE: Newtown residents start petition to save house from demolition

In late July, a demolition notice was placed on the occupied property, which councillors heard was in “good condition”, and has since angered local residents who fear another part of Newtown’s heritage will be lost forever.

Nine councillors on the planning committee voted in favour, two abstained and one voted against after the application was “called in” by Newtown councillor Joy Jones following local outcry. Councillor Elwyn Vaughan, who was the only committee member who objected, called for transparency and openness with regards to the application which is an “emotive issue locally and there’s a lot of hard feelings about the heritage, potentially, and history of this building and its sense of place”.

“I think we should in essence have waited for Cadw’s response to get the full picture because there is a strong feeling that things are being rushed through,” Cllr Vaughan said. “I know there’s a time frame but for the sake of openness and transparency, I think that would be very beneficial.

“My issue is it is too late for Cadw listing after it’s given the green light for demolition and therefore it would make more sense to say that there’s a need for full application and that would give time for the Cadw response and enable transparency to be seen and to be happening rather than literally being bulldozed through.”

The decision was made when the council had yet to receive a formal response from Cadw about whether Croesawdy has special architectural or historic interest to Wales for it to be considered for listed status. However, the lead planning officer Peter Morris told councillors that the “focus and consideration isn’t about saving the building, it’s whether the demolition of the building is acceptable or not”.

“We’ve got a 28-day clock ticking down which by default will make that demolition possible if we don’t make a decision,” Mr Morris said.

“There is a way for listing or a temporary stopgap listing where an approach could be made to the authority and that’s called a building preservation notice. I don’t think we’ve had that approach to us to my knowledge so that’s an alternative. But that’s a separate consideration to this notification that’s in front of us today.”

He added: “If the building was already listed, we could still be sat here with a demolition notice and we would have to decide whether or not the means of demolition and the restoration were acceptable. It would still require another consent if it was a listed building.”

Councillor Karl Lewis, committee chair, asked whether the building’s historic features could be saved before the developers “smash it all down and put it away in a skip”.

Councillor Heulwen Hulme added that the redevelopment of the former Bear Hotel in Broad Street, Newtown which was transformed into a shopping centre in the 1980s was required to incorporate some of the fascia of the hotel.

She said: “We have seen some of the interior features that remain within Croesawdy – that does concern me because they look historic and very attractive and in keeping with the period of the property. I think there is a lot to lose within the interior of the property.”

Councillors were told by the planning officers that they had “no confirmation of whether they will be salvaging anything”.

A majority of planning committee members voted in favour of the officer’s recommendation for permitted development.

How they voted

For: Karl Lewis (Llandinam with Dolfor, Welsh Conservatives); Gareth D. Jones (Llanfair Caereinion and Llanerfyl, Independent); Deb Edwards (Llangunllo with Norton); Heulwen Hulme (Rhiwcynon, Independent); Peter James (Llanwrtyd Wells, Independent); Gareth E. Jones (Llanelwedd, Independents for Powys); Iain McIntosh (Yscir with Honddu Isaf and Llanddew, Welsh Conservatives); Geoff Morgan (Ithon Valley); Gwynfor Thomas (Llansantffraid, Welsh Conservatives).

Abstain: Tom Colbert (Bronllys and Felin-fach, Welsh Liberal Democrats); Corinna Kenyon-Wade (Knighton and Beguildy, Welsh Liberal Democrats).

Against: Elwyn Vaughan (Glantwymyn, Plaid Cymru)