Saturday, 3 September 2011
Wrecsam councillors tell National Trust to get house in order
The National Trust has yet again come under fire for hypocrisy over its plans to build a new luxury village on the Erddig estate in Wrecsam. In a front page article in today’s Times newspaper, the Trust has blasted UK government plans to relax planning laws which will allow development on green belt in England, saying “unchecked and damaging development will blight the English countryside”. The newspaper highlighted the Erddig development in Wales to demonstrate the organisations hypocritical behaviour over the issue.
The National Trust is now spearheading a campaign to protect the English countryside from the UK government’s proposed planning changes in its National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
The National Trust gained planning permission for its new village of 223 houses on green field in Rhostyllen, Wrecsam back in 2008. The plans met fierce opposition from local campaigners who held a referendum demonstrating local people in Rhostyllen were against the plans 2:1. The Trust also came under heavy criticism after the development was advertised to potential buyers as being in Rhostyllen ‘Cheshire’, reinforcing campaigner’s assertions that the planned village was clearly aimed at commuters and not based on local need. Campaigners maintain the development, not yet built, was part of the controversial West Cheshire Plan, which aims to build over 20,000 houses across north east Wales.
The ‘Not on Erddig’ campaign went on to make headlines across the UK after forcing a vote of National Trust members on the proposals at the Trust's 2008 Annual General meeting in Liverpool. Campaigners initially won the vote with over 14,000 Trust Members voting against the proposals, although the Trust's chairman at the time Sir William Proby used his block vote of 8,000 to push the plans through. Campaigners also forced a vote of no confidence in National Trust leaders because of Erddig, with over 10,000 backing the motion.
Plaid Cymru councillor Carrie Harper who led the ‘Not on Erddig’ campaign said: “ The hypocrisy of the National Trust over this issue is astounding. How can anyone take their supposed disgust at plans to build on green belt in England seriously after their behaviour here in Wrecsam. It is a great shame they’ve never shown the same concern for green fields here in Wales and instead rode roughshod over local opinion. The Trust lost a lot of members because of its behaviour over Erddig, it’s now time they scrapped the proposals once and for all and got back to their core aims of protecting the countryside for everyone.”
Fellow campaigner and Plaid councillor Marc Jones said the Trust's recent statements on the UK governments plans to change the planning system were an example of “breathtaking hypocrisy” after their attempted money grabbing exercise at Erddig. He added “They have no shame”.