A controversial planning application to build 150 extra houses in Tanyfron will "open the floodgates" to build on green fields across the county of Wrexham.
That's the view of local residents, who are being backed by Plaid Cymru's Wrexham branch in their campaign against the development by Brymbo Developments Ltd.
The application is identical to a previous application submitted by the company, which was turned down by the council in 2010. Although BDL contested the refusal, it was subsequently thrown out on appeal. The site, pictured, is next door to the Brymbo Sports and Social Club. It is classed as green barrier and therefore previous development attempts have been refused due to the council’s policy of protecting such spaces. However, recent comments by the Planning Inspectorate regarding Wrexham’s next Local Development Plan have prompted the developers to re-submit the application.
Local residents now fear the Inspectorate's comments now gives BDL the green light to build at the green barrier site in Tanyfron. If approved this would mean that BDL has overseen the building of more than 700 homes in the Brymbo and Tanyfron area since it took over the Brymbo Steelworks site for regeneration more than a decade ago.
Plaid Cymru's Wrexham spokeswoman Carrie Harper said: “If the application by BDL were to be approved on the basis of what may or may not happen with the next Local Development Plan, it would undoubtedly open the floodgates to unscrupulous developers and put all our currently protected green barrier areas at risk. The development plan in place at the moment has specific policies to protect these sites and it would set a dangerous precedent if these were ignored.”
Local residents currently campaigning against the proposed development also voiced serious concerns. Sam Evans, of the Tanyfron Residents' Group, said:
“Many residents are opposed to the development of housing at the Bryn Gwenfro site in Tanyfron and we are making our views known to Planning Committee members. We are well aware this application goes completely against council policy.
“There have been ongoing issues with BDL for a number of years locally. They promised a whole host of community facilities on the back of the 550 houses that have already built on the site but many never materialised, including the completion of the much-needed spine road to link Tanyfron and the new housing to Brymbo.
"They claim they need to build yet more houses to fund this work but why should we lose our last piece of open space in Tanyfron for housing development that is not needed locally? The company has made a lot of money out of our area already and it should fulfil its promises to local people, without putting more pressure on our local infrastructure and environment with this unwanted development.”
The application is due to go before Wrexham's planning committee on Monday, 6 May.
BACKGROUND TO THE LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
Over the last 12 months there has been much controversy over Wrexham Council's next Local Development Plan, which sets out future levels of housing development across the borough over the next decade. The Plan, which was based on two years of consulting local communities, was rejected by the Planning Inspectorate in 2012. The inspectorate said the 8,000 additional houses proposed by the council were too low and insisted on a target of 12,000 over the lifetime of the LDP. This would mean building on greenfield sites, something the council had avoided in its initial plan.
Councils across Wales - including Denbighshire and Conwy - have faced a similar situation, with Welsh Government housing projections forecasting well over 320,000 new houses across the country over the next 20 years.
Plaid Cymru's Wrexham spokeswoman Carrie Harper said: "Many councils fear severe overdevelopment as a result and concerns have been expressed regarding the formula used to calculate future housing demand and the lack of any genuine need for so much unaffordable development.
The Planning Inspectorate ensured Wrecsam council’s plan was sent back to the drawing board, saying the council that green field sites would have to be considered for development in order to meet Welsh Government housing demands. This has been fiercely opposed with Plaid Cymru councillors stating the actions of the Planning Inspectorate undermined the local democratic process and would lead to the unnecessary over-development of Wrexham, with no protection for the borough's green fields.