Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Planning for the future - or for developers?

Here's a little example of how the planning system is broken.

The Plas Coch retail area is a very popular place to go shopping. It has one entry off Plas Coch Road, which is also used by the University, the Plas Coch pub, Ysgol Plas Coch primary school and surrounding residents. It's already a busy road and, at times, is gridlocked.

Over the past couple of years there have been several planning applications to develop the area. These have included:
  • Costa Coffee drive through
  • Extending the Plas Coch into a hotel
  • 400 new apartments on the University campus
These have all been assessed by the planning committee in isolation and the latter was passed despite the highways officer recommending refusal on the grounds of congestion.

At the same time, Ysgol Plas Coch has now been expanded to accommodate 315 pupils (it was originally built for 210) with resulting added traffic at pick-up times.

There are now two new planning applications that will have a serious impact on this part of town:
  • Plans for 455 new homes on the Stansty Chain Road - just the other side of the dual carriageway. These will be accessed via Mold Road as well as Stansty Chain Rd but anyone wanting to avoid the B&Q roundabout will doubtless be using the back road.
  • Just before Christmas plans for a 24-hour drive through McDonald's were submitted for the car park section in front of The Range. 
The cumulative effect of these developments, if passed, would be to increase traffic, increase pollution and clog up Plas Coch Road and surrounding areas for more and more of the day. It would be bad for local residents as well as local businesses - who wants to spend an hour in traffic to get to the supermarket?

But when the planning committee comes to decide on whether the new housing estate and the McDonald's should be allowed, they'll be unable to take into consideration the other pending application. They'll have to take them all on their own individual merits.

We're not planning for the future - we're allowing the planning system to be dictated to by those with the deepest pockets, who can pay experienced consultants to navigate the system. Local residents, by contrast don't have those resources.

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