BT have objected to an ambitious flats plan for an Aberystwyth town centre building overlooking Plascrug Avenue over fears that work could affect “vital” broadband equipment.

The five-floor, 42-flat development has been proposed by Ellis Developments for the former Crown Building which faces on to Plascrug Avenue.

The office building, formerly used by the Welsh Government, has lain empty since 2013 and developers argue that “the employment facility in its present use class is no longer viable”.

The site has been marketed for development since 2017.

The plans, currently being considered by Ceredigion council planners, will see the development of 13 one-bedroom apartments, 26 two-bedroom and three three-bedroom penthouse flats, along with off­ice space.

Under the plans, the existing BT exchange on the ground floor would be retained. The scheme does not include the side elevation of the building towards Stanley Road, which is under separate ownership.

BT, however, has lodged an objection to the scheme, which will see work carried out above its exchange.

The company, through a letter submitted to planning officers by consultants on their behalf, said it has “serious concerns” with the proposal “in terms of its potential to prejudice the vital functions of the exchange”.

BT, which occupies most of the ground floor and extension, also said that the current fire escape route exits into areas it owns, “bringing into question the deliverability” of the scheme.

While it said it “does not object to the principle” of developing the building, BT said it has “concerns with any potential disturbance and nuisance from excavation, demolition, vibration, piling, noise and dust due to the existence of sensitive network equipment.

“The operation includes apparatus which provides broadband services to the whole of Mid Wales,” the letter said.

“The site is one of only three in Mid and North Wales providing this facility.

“Any impact on BT’s operation which results in any loss of service has the potential to cost upwards of hundreds of thousands of pounds, which would be recoverable in compensation.

“Any work over or close to BT equipment needs to have adequate protection to prevent any impact to BT’s operation.”

An attempt to turn the “tired and dated” imposing 1960s building into student accommodation in 2009 was refused by Ceredigion planners but allowed by Welsh Government inspectors on appeal.

That scheme never came to fruition.

A planning report by Geraint John Planning on behalf of the developers said the current building “is not currently used in an optimal manner”.

Aberystwyth Town Council lodged no objection to the scheme, while Natural Resources Wales has raised concerns over the development.

The plans are currently being considered by Ceredigion planners.