Monday, 1 December 2008

When does 160 = 223?

Apparently when it's the number of homes allowed on a piece of land by Wrexham Council.

Wrexham Council's own Unitary Development Plan, which still guides planning in this borough, states that "no more than 160" homes are allowed on the piece of National Trust land at Rhostyllen.

Tonight's planning committee debate on the matter, at which Cllr Carrie Harper and myself were not allowed to contribute or vote, heard planning officers argue that 160 was not a fixed number but could - in fact - mean 223. This, by coincidence, is the number of homes the National Trust now wants to build on the farmland. The willingness to accommodate developers was a symptom of the old regime at Wrexham Council and tonight was a reminder that that old regime still has some life in it.

And what of those rapacious developers?

The National Trust, whose very name now seems like a sick joke, has decided that it can only win the argument by misleading the public. At a recent meeting with campaigners they stated that no National Trust money could be used to subsidise Erddig because it was a special case. We reported this honestly to the press. The Trust then claimed that this was not the case because it had spent £1m from its central funds on Erddig in the past five years.

Tonight we received a clarification of this doublespeak - it appears the Trust has merely loaned the money to Erddig and, when the development takes place, it will have to repay that loan in full.

Don't trust the trust.


Plaid Gwersyllt said...

I must say I couldn't believe what I was hearing last night, the way the officers, Chief Planning Officer, Building Control Officer and Highways engineer presented the facts to the Planning Committee you would have thought they were working for the Trust and the developers. It begs the question why we need a Planning Committee why not let the officers sort it with applicants. The case for the development was presented with such force by officers that it left Planning Committee members with little option but to support it knowing that if it didn't pass it would go to appeal and possibly cost the council thousands of pounds...but that still didn't make the development right. I just feel there are grounds for objection but officers did nothing to help those that oppose it to identify those objections that could have been grounds to fight the subsequent appeal.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Last time this application was up was I believe in April 2008, when it was deferred because of concerns over the traffic infrastructure and the call for a traffic impact assessment and we came back and found that no traffic impact assessment had been carried out. Now I'm sure that the UDP states that a traffic impact assessment must be carried out on developments of more than 100 houses, so why did the Highways Engineer not mention that in light of questions on traffic being posed by the local member?