PLANS to transform Pembroke Dock’s Cleddau Bridge Hotel into a care home have been given the go-ahead, despite concerns raised that the current owners are not fit to run a care home.

The planning application, heard at Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee meeting on May 22, sees the former hotel, which closed at the start of the year, gain permission to be transformed into a 48-bedroom care home.

Officers had recommended the committee back the plan.

Plans to transform the hotel into a care home were previously denied by the hotel’s owners, the Kullar family.

It is estimated that up to 40 jobs would be created by the change of use, submitted under the name John Smith.

The Cleddau Bridge Hotel closed on January 2, news which came as a shock to members of staff at the time, many of who have said they are still owed money by the Kullars.

A public meeting was held in the town’s Pater Hall, with many expressing concern that the Kullars were not fit and proper people to run a care home.

At the May 22 meeting, Pembroke Dock’s deputy mayor George Manning said the consensus was there was no objection to the application on planning grounds, but raised concerns about owners the Kullars being fit and proper people to run a care home.

He suggested the committee “seek further evidence of the ability of this company to run a care home”.

Agent Richard Bowen said: “The applicant is aware of some concerns raised,” but stressed the application must be considered on planning policy alone.

He added: “In terms of fit and proper people to run nursing homes, this will need a licence from yourselves, as a licencing authority.”

Pembroke Dock councillor Tony Wilcox said: “It is worrying to the people of Pembroke Dock has changed hands several times overnight; what’s to stop that happening again? You’d have incredibly vulnerable people than homeless.”

The agent responded, saying the applicant may not actually operate the site, opening up the possibility of it being sold on if the change of use was approved.

Councillor Brian Hall, who moved the application be supported, said he understood the concerns of former staff, adding any refusal would leave the applicants in a position to appeal the decision.

He described the change of use as “a second best” to the former hotel again being used as a hotel.

Members approved the application, with Cllr Wilcox abstaining.