Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Choosing a travellers' site (you lose some)

Most of the 100+ people in the gallery at tonight's planning committee meeting on the Local Development Plan were from Brymbo and Chirk. Both have been shortlisted for a possible travellers' site of up to 15 pitches along with the possible expansion of the existing site on Ruthin Road.
It's fair to say the discussion that followed wasn't the most coherent, although Cllr Keith Gregory's contribution raising the first round of applause. He'd actually spoken to a traveller family who had made it clear they didn't want to move to Chirk for a number of reasons, not least the distance from that site to the nearest Catholic schools in town.
Those who had visited the three sites were in no doubt that the Brymbo site had access problems as well as practical issues because it was next to a sewage plant.
The Chirk site also has an issue in that there is now a confidential proposal for a large and ambitious project of national significance for the same site that could create 70 new jobs. This, we felt as Plaid councillors, materially altered the situation for the Chirk site.
The process to shortlist these three has not been easy - 700 potential sites were whittled down over more than a year until it became 15, then seven and then finally three. All, the officers conceded, had potential problems and chief planning officer Lawrence Isted was honest enough to say "there's no such thing as a perfect gipsy site."
There's no doubt in my mind that the best option is to extend the existing Ruthin Road site, even though this could involve years of wrangling over buying more land.
Taking this clear route was looking increasingly unlikely with one proposal being made to re-consider the shortlist of seven. Things took a turn for the worse when it was suggested the committee recommended a shortlist of 15 to the Executive Board - a buckpassing exercise.
Cllr Carrie Harper cut to the chase with a one-sentence amendment that both the Chirk and Brymbo sites be taken off the shortlist.
The vote was narrowly lost 9-10, so the shortlist of three sites has gone forward to the Executive Board, who will no doubt be bombarded with letters and e-mails from all three areas.


Brymbo Man said...

Can anyone tell me what is the point of us having a Tory councillor in Brymbo when he can't even convince his own party to put a proposal forward to stop the site

Anonymous said...

Good for Carrie Harper.All the greysuits were going round the houses and she sorted them out.If only my councillors were half as convincing.Some sat there for three hours and didnt say a dicky bird!!

Anonymous said...

I can't understand how Councillors can defeat the moratorium amendment by 14 to 6 and the 50% only by 10 to 9. Feels that decision making by some councillors is totally irrational and senseless, is it any surprise that were covering Wrexham in concrete. The only rational voting last night was by Plaid Councillors and Keith Gregory.

Red Robbo said...

How many affordable houses would have been on the agenda if we hadn’t any Plaid councillors.

Plaid Whitegate said...

@Red Robbo
To be fair, it's not just Plaid pushing this one. A lot of councillors have concerns about affordable housing, which is why the 50% threshold was backed initially at the Planning Policy Panel. That was only overturned after a consultant's report argued that 30% was viable for developers.
@ Anon - More councillors backed the 50% threshold because they know deep down that we won't hit our affordable housing targets through the rural housing exemptions and, unless we up the proportion of affordable housing, we're stuffed.

Colin D said...

Criticism of the Conservative Councillor is clearly unjustified when he fought is corner while Labour and the Liberal Democrats did not support removal of the sites at Brymbo or Chirk.

I suppose most of them on the planning committee are just pleased it is not in their wards!