Wednesday, 17 February 2016

11,000 new homes will mean urban sprawl on greenfield sites

Playing fields, sports pitches and agricultural land all face the axe under new LDP plan

Plans to build huge sprawling housing estates on greenfield sites on the outskirts of Wrexham should be opposed by anyone who cares about their local community.

Wrexham Council's proposed Local Development Plan features plans to build 1,000 homes a year for the next 12 years, including two huge sites on the Ruthin Road and the rugby club fields. This is the second LDP that the council is putting forward after the first one, which avoided allocating greenfield sites for housing, was rejected by the Welsh Government's Planning Inspectorate.

This level of development isn't based on any natural population movement or natural growth, it's all artificial in terms of planned population transfer, one-off influxes or market driven in terms of developers who've seen opportunities to make a quick buck and bugger the consequences.

We should also remember that there has been an active strategy by certain politicians to attract inward migration to Wrexham as well, via the Mersey-Dee Alliance and the West Cheshire Plan.

Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru's Assembly candidate for Wrexham, said:

“I was on Wrexham Council’s Planning Policy Panel that put forward the original LDP in 2012. That plan allocated brownfield sites for about 7,700 new homes over a 16-year period to meet demand and made provision for affordable housing. However this was rejected by the Welsh Government’s Planning Inspectorate, who insisted on thousands more homes based on the Government’s population projections, which we believe are totally flawed and based on past unsustainable growth.

“Wrexham saw very rapid growth in the early 2000s due to a unique set of circumstances – firstly, there was an influx of students due to creating Glyndwr University, secondly, migrant workers from the East European states gained the right to come to work in the UK from 2002 and thirdly the council in Cheshire had very tight restrictions on housing developments around Chester’s greenbelt. This unique combination saw house prices soar in Wrexham due to demand and developers built as many as 1,000 homes in two of those boom years.

“That has since dropped to a trickle due to the recession but this plan anticipates building 11,715 new homes -  an annual building programme of 1,000 homes a year for more than a decade from now until 2028. It’s madness because it does not take into account the existing pressures on our schools, health services and other infrastructure such as roads and public transport. GP surgeries and A&E are already overloaded, our schools are full to bursting and the A483 is regularly gridlocked.

“Issues such as affordability have been ignored and the real danger is that we create a series of commuter estates with quick access to the by-pass that just adds to traffic congestion.“Perhaps the biggest concerns I have are for the two new housing sprawls being planned for Lower Berse Farm on the Ruthin Road and the rugby club/Morgan Llwyd playing fields. When people realise the scale of what is being planned – 1500 homes on one and 1260 on the other - I believe they will be outraged. The idea of Tarmacing over sporting and school playing fields at a time when we’re struggling to accommodate existing pupil numbers is particularly alarming.

“I hope we will see a united front to oppose these enormous new estates and challenge the Welsh Government to re-think its population projections, which are the basis for these sprawling housing developments. I want to see a positive alternative to this that sees communities grow more organically and ensures we have the services in those communities that can cope with any increase in population.”

Labour politicians such as Ken Skates and Susan Elan Jones have enthusiastically backed these housing proposals. Lesley Griffiths AM has tried to have her cake and eat it... she's a minister in a government that is forcing these additional houses on Wrexham but she's also come out publicly against plans for a 300+ housing development in Llay. 

Today, we're launching a petition to oppose building huge estates on greenfield sites. Please sign, share and speak out against this terrible plan: 

The petition will be fed into the ongoing consultation about the LDP, which lasts until April 1st. Have your say on any of the proposed sites by contacting planning@wrexham.gov.uk

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