Plaid Cymru campaigners have branded a plan to increase Wrexham's population by 26,300 - 20% - within 20 years as "ludicrous".
New population projections show that the North Wales population is expected to rise by 38,600 by 2036 with two thirds of that projected growth in just one county - Wrexham. The numbers of homes is expected to rise by 27%, the highest outside Cardiff.
Plaid Cymru candidate for Wrexham Carrie Harper said:
"We've been battling against these Welsh Government population and housing projections for some years now. They are completely at odds with local need and I challenge anyone in the Welsh Government to explain why Wrexham is going to see such a dramatic population growth - which is clearly not a natural growth - when neighbouring counties such as Flintshire and Denbighshire are virtually static.
"This seems to be more about enabling big housing developers to build large new commuter estates along the A483 than creating sustainable communities that have adequate jobs, schools and other services for the population.
"It's somewhat ironic that these ludicrous projections are being made public the day after news emerges of Plas Madoc Leisure Centre and other community facilities being closed. Other services are also being cut or are already full. Where are all these new people meant to send their kids to school? Where will they access health and other public services? How will the roads and other infrastructure cope, especially as we are seeing public transport being cut back? This has the makings of a disaster for the people of Wrexham, who have not been consulted on this and are expected to put up with their green fields and playing areas being Tarmaced by developers.
"It's time to say enough is enough. We have seen a huge increase in the number of homes in the area - many of which are not affordable and way beyond the pockets of local people. We need a new style of planning system that starts with the local community assessing its local needs in terms of housing, work and services and then feeding that into a county-wide and nationwide picture. That way we can assess demand and plan for growth where it is needed.
"This system just opens the floodgates for developers to build where they want without regard for the people and the impact their housing estates will have on existing villages and towns."
Jill Evans, Plaid Cymru's MEP, has also hit out at the population projections:
"Today’s figures show a significant change from the projections published in 2008. Projected demand in some places has almost halved. It’s important that Local Authorities are able to reflect this in their plans."The Local Development Plans drawn up by Local Authorities are based on inaccurate data, and it’s important now that they are able to adjust these plans in light of the revised statistics. The Welsh Government should allow Local Authorities to revisit their LDPs and adjust them to meet the new projected local needs."Housing demand is still going up and we need to work fast to meet that demand. But that needs to be done sensitively and in line with the local area."While we need to build hundreds of new homes all over Wales over the coming years, we can’t be brazen about this."Plaid Cymru is clear that this means building the right kind of homes in the right places, and at the right prices. Getting the balance right in our communities is crucial, and it’s important that our Local Authorities are allowed to meet local needs."