Monday, 6 December 2010

Brymbo housing "blackmail" fails to sway planners

In a dramatic vote, Wrecsam's planning committee has decided not to grant planning permission for another 150 homes on the old Brymbo steelworks. Councillors voted 7-5 to reject the plan.
The application by Brymbo Developments Ltd was a re-hash of a previous planning permission from 2006 and would have meant more than 650 houses had been granted permission on the site.
The company argued that the development was needed on the site, a green field next to the Brymbo Sports and Social Club, to pay for the spine road through the steelworks. But a confidential report, outlining the financial situation, was not available for councillors on the night.
Opposition was led by Plaid councillors Marc Jones and Carrie Harper, who argued that the development was against the council's own planning policies.
Brymbo Community Council was also fiercely opposed to the development, describing the planning application as "blackmail" because the company said it had to build the houses to be able to afford the spine road.
Cllr Marc Jones said he was very sorry that the people of Brymbo and Tanyfron had had to put up with the lack of progress on the site for 20 years since the steelworks closed in 1990. He added that BDL had an opportunity to seal the deal back in 2006, when they failed to provide the necessary assurances for the council that - in exchange for building the houses - they would also build the road.
He added that back in 2006 the company was also offering to develop and safeguard the site's important heritage area but that, in this planning application, that promise had been abandoned.
Cllr Carrie Harper emphasised the over-development of the site already - the new housing has effectively doubled the size of Tanyfron.
She added: "I am stunned that this application has even come to us tonight as it breaches so many of our local planning policies and even more bemused as to why planning officers are recommending approval. The whole thing needs investigating."
Despite claims by local Tory councillor Paul Rogers that the village was behind the application, the only local comments were all opposed to the scheme. Cllr Marc Jones said: "Local villagers are obviously fed up with being spun a line by the developers and it was right that the planning committee reflected that strength of feeling and ensured that the council stuck to its own policies."
He said BDL now had a responsibility to fully develop the site as promised more than a decade ago - by providing the road to link Brymbo and Tanyfron, the proposed new school and a new shopping centre.


Rhian said...

Councillor Harper is clearly unaware of local geography. The Brymbo link road is the dividing line between Tanyfron and Brymbo and therefore the community has not doubled in size.

Plaid Whitegate said...

The new housings estates are at the Tanyfron end of the steelworks site.

Brymbo Community Association said...

The decision to refuse last nights applications means that the community of Brymbo will have poor transport links for some time. The new housing development of 500 homes will also be cut off from community facilities in the village.

The decision also means that in 2012 the developer could build a supermarket on the site

Moggy said...

In fairness to Brymbo Developments they have given a huge piece of green space to the community council to enable the construction of football pitches and also protected Brymbo Pool when they could have quite easily sold them off.

Caia Park Councillors clearly do not know what the people of Brymbo want.

Anonymous said...

I hope Brymbo Developments Ltd appeal the decision given that councillors went against an officer recommendation and that a principle for housing was established in 2006

Maybe Plaid Whitegate should look at this "GREEN" site next time he is in the area - he will actually find it is brownfield.

Plaid Queensway said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Plaid Queensway said...

In terms of what the community of Brymbo want, the comments on the planning agenda from both the community council and local residents were all objections to the housing development, there was not one positive comment. The question that should be asked is why funding for the road didn't come forward when it should have done from the several hundred houses that have already been built. The explanations about that issue in the report were wooly to say the least.

Plaid Queensway said...

Comments from Planning agenda:

Community council:

The site adjoins a site which already has 450 properties. This in itself constitutes a large increase in traffic which will be using the Brymbo link Road. Adding even more traffic to what will be a very, very busy road.

The site is right on the bend that has been the site of numerous accidents.

The site also takes up even more of the green space which is left in Tanyfron when there is hardly any left.

This application is nothing more than blackmail when we are told that unless it is granted the spine road through to Brymbo will not be finished.

This applicant has added more properties to this site on the same proviso. How many more houses is it going to take to provide the necessary spine road.

A small selection of comments from local residents:

It is against the principle of sustainable development, this is in breach of European Treaties.

It will cause coalescence between villages.

It is not lawfull to build houses to pay for building a road and thus use land outside the settlement boundary.

It is not of imperative overriding interest for the socio economic or national interest for the extra houses which are purely speculative development.

The current development will double the size of Tanyfron, and I have yet to see anything that will benefit any of the current residents

What happened to the greenbelt? The proposal is overdevelopment and must be rejected as such.

When people write to say they don’t want development, they don’t mean that you should allow a revised plan to be submitted, they mean THEY DON’T WANT ANY DEVELOPMENT.

Bottle Chimney said...

Plaid Queensway needs to realise that between 2005 and 2010 demographics have changed as have community views. I spoke to a community councillor this morning and I can assure you that they are not happy with the outcome of last nights meeting and petitions and public meetings are being organised.

Plaid Whitegate said...

Anyone unhappy at the lack of a road, school or other facilities for the new village between Brymbo and Tanyfron should be knocking on the door of BDL. The council has, in the past, bent over backwards to satisfy this developer and has been rebuffed at every turn.
This was a site that deserved a full development and the failure to provide it - despite receiving millions of grant aid and further millions in sales from housing land - is down to the developer.
Last night's decision was in keeping with council policy.

Anon's comments about it being a brownfield site conflict with the evidence submitted at last night's meeting.

Anonymous said...

BDL have never had an obligation to build the road - Wrexham Council economic development officers have always maintained that argument.

The blame here is with Plaid for leading the opposition against it.

Plaid Whitegate said...

If so Anon, why did the original planning application back in 2006 insist on a s106 to build the road? BDL's plans have promised to deliver 1000 jobs, housing, a heritage site, recreational facilities and a new school. The entire site's development was dependent on a spine road - that much is obvious.
You and other BDL apologists can try to point the finger at Plaid if you want but people in Brymbo know where the real blame lies. Just ask to see BDL's accounts.

Anonymous said...

How nice, if suspicious to see so many comments. Let's not forget the past history of roads to Brymbo. The steelworks got a grant of millions to build a road that was essential to keep the works open ...did they ever pay that back?
Nice to see Wrexham council showing some backbone.

Brymbo Community Association said...

The Brymbo Community Association agreed tonight to support a campaign following tonights outrageous decision and back Councillor Paul Rogers in trying to ensure our community is not forgotten.

The fact is the arguments put forward by Plaid Councillors ignored local opinion and also the needs of our community.

S Gordon said...

Do Plaid actually know the history of the site?

Wrexham Council apparently wanted to carry out the reclamation work at a sum of £15 million pound to the taxpayer.. Brymbo Developments came along and said we can do it for just over half the price - around 8 million - they recieved a grant from the Welsh Assembly and actually paid a large amount back because they did it for less!

Not only that but is there a clawback on the public money received to reclaim the site so if developed in future the taxpayer funded subsidy is repaid.

The reality is that BDL actually saved the taxpayer a lot of money, donated the land for a football pitch, protected Brymbo Pool, donated land for Brymbo Enterprise Centre which enabled several firms to move to Brymbo and employ local people.

Plaid Whitegate said...

Perhaps the BCA would like to answer the concerns of the Brymbo Community Council, who objected to the planning application for 100+ homes on the following grounds:

- The site adjoins a site which already has 450 properties. This in itself constitutes a large increase in traffic. It will add even more traffic to a very, very busy road

- The site is right on the bend that has been the site of numerous accidents.

- The site also takes up even more of the green space in Tanyfron, when there is hardly any left.

- This application is nothing more than blackmail when we are told that unless it is granted the spine road through Brymbo will not be finished.

- The applicant has added more properties to this site on the same proviso. How many more houses is it going to take to provide the necessary spine road?

Plaid Whitegate said...

@S Gordon

Yes, I've followed the sorry history of this site since the day the profitable Brymbo Steelworks was closed by its Sheffield bosses UES Steel. I believe it was making £5m a year profit back in 1990.

Many local residents put an awful lot of work into trying to ensure a proper community development on that site. That hasn't happened to date because the over-riding concern has been to maximise profits rather than develop the site for the benefit of the communities surrounding the site.

The Welsh Development Agency and Assembly put in £8.5m after protracted negotiations (mainly because the developers weren't willing to contribute - sounds familiar?). I'd be delighted to hear details of how much of that was repaid by the companies involved.

InMyOpinion said...

Well I suppose it is no different to other industrial sites in Wales which have received huge subsidies.

I note Plaid are using arguments from Brymbo Community Council in 2005 yet since then they unanimously supported last nights recommendations by officers as a way forward.

Are Plaid suggesting that community development has not taken place? Speak to the people who put in 10 years of work on the Urban II committee which resulted in BDL donating land for the Enterprise Centre when they could have easily sold it for development.

Thanks to Plaid Brymbo may have to wait another 10 or 20 years for its spine road.

Bob said...

I can see this issue becoming nothing more than a complete shambles between both WDC & BDL as to who should have done what and when!
I purchased a property on this development on the basis that there would be local amenities provided, such as shops, school etc, this was represented to me through Bloor Homes - Now I find that both WDC & BDL seem to want to negate any such responsibility under some very dubious tactics by certain councillors who do not have any interest in this community and by a very weak WDC who seem not to have the slightest interest in the residents of the new development.
Maybe we should refuse to pay rates and any management charges and see how they then wake up and take us all to court - always the resort of local councils and other bodies when people take direct action against them.
I believe it is incumbent on all councillors no matter where they reside to take into account the fact that the new development residents contribute to the 'Whole' and therefore should be treated as part of the 'Whole' and not segregated from the 'Whole' as they have just voted to do, if we are not part of the 'Whole' then tell me why we should contribute to the 'Whole'.
It is these lack of local amenities that has made this development and it residents social lepers within Wrexham - Even taking into account the resultant devaluation of properties in the area, this development now has properties that are virtually unsalable and this decision will mean that people who need to move are trapped in both the location and in a lot of instances negative equity for years to come.
Plaid in particular is shameful in their attitude to residents and they alone need to come and meet with residents face to face to discuss this further.
If those council members who did not have the decency to attend the vote for the spine road etc, maybe they should consider their duties and resign from their positions of grandeur - Shame on them as much as those from Plaid who voted it down.
This will not end here that’s for sure - Direct Action needs to be taken against both WDC & BDL economically as they have now placed the residents in dire straits for years to come!
I cannot wait for the forthcoming elections in May, maybe we can effect some changes for the good of ALL Communities within WDC irrespective as to whether or not they actually live in the areas they represent. These so called representatives of the people need to wake up and smell the coffee – we are all human beings after all – So much for Good Will to all Men and all men are equal – seems some are more equal than others!

No Pasaran! said...

Speak to the people who put in 10 years of work on the Urban II committee which resulted in BDL donating land for the Enterprise Centre when they could have easily sold it for development.

Is this is the same enterprise centre that was mothballed because of incompetence management then?

Who are the BCA? Are they Rogers and his Tanyfron Tory mates? Are there any people from Brymbo part of it, like the chair of the Community Council, Nigel Davies; oh no I forgot they opposed it as well didn't they.

What needs to happen here is to investigate certain individuals relationship with BDC.

Anonymous said...

Bdl are a bunch of thieves good for u stsnding up to them

Brymbo Community Association said...

Brymbo Community Association is a group established by residents to improve the community.

We have no political affiliation whatsoever but are supporting Paul Rogers and his campaign to secure funding for the spine road.

I understand whilst Brymbo Community Council did oppose the housing development in 2005, since their views have changed as they realise how important the spine road is to the community.

Anonymous said...

No - one has mentioned that Labour Councillors voted with Plaid on this. Shame on them too... I wonder what our AM will say about this...

Unknown said...

Hear hear Bob and Brymbo Community Association. BCA is a large group of residents on the new estates who got together about 18 months ago to deal with issues with the management companies and housebuilders.
We were all sold these houses with the promise there would soon be a connecting road to Brymbo village itself so we could support & integrate with the local community, and more importantly, the road being built was dependant on us getting a school, medical centre and a small shop.
Plaid - if you had bothered to come and see the residents here you would know that we all desperately need and want the road building.
Let's just reiterate; we have NO amenities here for 500 houses that are ALREADY BUILT so what is the point in anyone objecting to this proposal based on "over development"??
As for Brymbo Community Council objecting, if that is true, SHAME ON THEM. They have NOT consulted with the residents on the new estates despite us all being forced to pay part of our Council tax to them. We have not seen ANY support or financial investment from them.
Finally, several of us DID write to Lawrence Isted to support this application, so the fact you say that there was no support is not true.
I suspect this is objection was based on political point-scoring by Plaid and Labour against Councillor Rogers who happens to be a Tory - who cares what his political affiliation is? He regularly consults with and is supportive of this community and seems to have been the only one to have been acting in our interests here. I'm very sad that this important issue has been dragged into the gutter by politicians.

Plaid Queensway said...

If as you say the community council have changed their minds, then surely Cllr Rogers, having seen the report prior to the planning meeting, should have flagged that up with officers. Have the local residents who objected also 'changed their minds'? Certainly not according to Brymbo residents who have been in touch over the last few days furious over the way BDL has treated the community. The only people who should be ashamed of anything is BDL for taking millions in grants, failing to deliver and then giving out millions in dividends to their shareholders.

Disgruntled Plaid Supporter said...

Just read the report online - it clearly states objections were made in 2005 ... also I phoned a community councillor this morning and was told officers are aware of the community council support for the spine road as they regularly attend the Brymbo Steelworks Liaison Committee Meeting.

Had a notice been placed to inform residents that the housing development was being considered I am sure they would have had an opportunity to make fresh observations.

Brymbo Community Council did support the supermarket application as did the community association. This application was clear that funding from this AND the housing would fund the road.

William said...

Isn't it interesting how Plaid are desperate to stop anything happening with this site..

Plaid Minister for Economy & Transport
Plaid Minister for Regeneration
Plaid Minister for Heritage and Culture

all in government in the Welsh Assemblyignoring pleas for help and now Plaid Councillors in Wrexham opposing a way forward.

Plaid Queensway said...

Opposing a further 150 houses on a site that's already been overdeveloped and an application that is against several key local planning policies, as well as noting 100% local objections as listed in the report. If you're not happy with what was put in the report for Planning Committee members then feel free to take that up with the Chief Planning officer.

Anonymous said...

Overdeveloped in whos opinion? Is called regeneration and sustainable development. These homes are a benefit to the local economy, residents support local shops and business, they all pay taxes (proping up Wrexham Councils coffers).

What would Plaid Queensway suggest as an alternative use for this brownfield site?

Plaid Whitegate said...

Please read the following story, written in December 2008:

@Disgruntled - councillors on the planning committee have to make decisions based on the facts presented to them on the night.

@ William - I'm afraid that scoring party political points isn't really helping people in Brymbo.

@ EmmaB - who made the promise to build the school, supermarket, road etc? Not Plaid. I understand you want someone to blame for this mess but we were knocking on doors in Brymbo two years ago discussing this problem. If you lived in Brymbo two years ago, you would have received a leaflet outlining our suggestions for a solution.
On other important planning matters in Brymbo, e.g. the proposed gipsy site, Plaid councillors have initiated solutions that Cllr Rogers has supported. There's no political intent here.

I will shortly have sight of BDL's most recent company accounts. We'll see where the money from the sale of previous housing has gone...

Peoples Council of Where? said...

Unfortunately we are where we are, Plaid clearly put party politics before people on Monday. Stirring the muck will not help the people of Brymbo.

Having attended the gypsy site meeting it was Cllr Rogers and one from Chirk who moved the amendment to take Brymbo out. Plaid were only interesting in restricting housing developments by hitting developers hard in a recession.

Plaid Queensway said...

At the planning meeting regarding the gypsy sites, I put forward the amendment to take both Chirk and Brymbo out, Cllr Rogers is not on the planning committee.

How on earth could Mondays decision be party political? Labour and several others also voted to refuse the housing based on the applciation breaching local planning policies so that's just nonsense.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brymboman said...

Plaid feeling the pressure are they?

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

This is what Paul Rogers said to me earlier on Facebook chat:

"you lot have given my campaign a boost in Brymbo lol"

doesn't it speak volumes about what really matters for this ambitious little politician?

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Just had a text from Paul Rogers,
which reads as follows, " The campaign I referred to was that for improved services for Brymbo. Please remove comment from your blog."
Obviously the truth hurts!!

Plaid Whitegate said...

to Emma and all at the BCA

Can I advise you to look at BDL's annual accounts for 2006 and 2007. During those two years, the company paid out £17,245,000 in dividends to its shareholders. Now how much of that money do you think is needed to build that spine road?

Furthermore, from the 2008 accounts (the latest available) it appears that BDL is owed £300,000 by Bromstead Hill Partnership, a company in which one Colin Cornes is a partner. Perhaps you should ask BDL why they don't claim that money to build a section of the spine road.

When I have time I will look at the other companies who have profited from this development without contributing to the community.

Paul Rogers said...

Now that the new housing development at Brymbo has been left without community facilities for the foreseeable, will Plaid be supporting our campaign for improved public transport links so that residents can access the services they need?

InMyOpinion said...

BDL made losses for years - why don't Plaid recognise that?

Plaid Whitegate said...

@InMyOpinion - let's see the evidence. Let's open the books and see whether money has seeped out of this development. Will BDL rise to that challenge?

@Paul Rogers - you know we're in favour of public transport and support better bus services throughout the borough.

Plaid Queensway said...

"you lot have given my campaign a boost in Brymbo lol"

Well that just says it all doesn't it. Unfortunately it looks as though it's not just BDL taking the people of Brymbo for a ride.

Warmist said...

Once again Plaid are showing that they are the nasty party ignoring the views of the majority.

Anonymous said...

I was actually a Plaid supporter until just realising how low they will stoop by releasing a personal chat quote, is this not trying to deflect from the actual subject? To be honest even if Paul Rogers did say that then he'd have my vote as I wouldn't want to vote for a party which conducts itself in that way.

I live on the new build side of Brymbo and am appauled to hear that yet again we have been forgotten. It would be interesting to see how long it takes the Plaid members (and all others that voted agianst the plans) to get to their local GP, school or shop that is open after most of us get home from work. It's also a worry as a young couple (as many on the estatea are) where our children will go to school, will there be an impact on their education as classes are too big? Even if I was to look at using the nursery in the enterprise centre when I have a child I'd have to have the use of a car to be able to work to keep up the repayments on our home.

It would also be interesting to know how many of the homes would be affordable homes or housing association as there is an increasingly high rate of homelessness in the borough where people are unable to live close to their families.

Plaid Whitegate said...

@Anon - I know it's convenient to kick Plaid for the situation in Brymbo at the moment. But if you consider who *should* be responsible for delivering a proper community with the right infrastructure then I don't think it'd take you long to realise that the developer and council had a duty to get this scheme right from the outset.
We've been councillors since May 2008 - way after the shops, health centre, school and spine road should have been built. People were raising these issues with the council and developers before then.

The problem with the school on the new site is particularly appalling - that wasn't even up for discussion last Monday and I have no info on when it will be built. Again, why have 500+ houses been built without the necessary infrastructure already being put in place?
The point about affordable housing is a good one - there are hardly any among those 500+ because the developer didn';t want them and the council didn't have the policies in place to impose them. This is changing but those houses will not contribute to alleviating the pressure on affordable housing in the borough.
As someone who's two kids have spent most of their primary education in mobile classrooms due to pressures on their school, I wouldn't wish that on any young couples. But think who is responsible for delivering those key infrastructure elements before pinning the blame on Plaid.

John Wilkinson's Ghost said...

Just catching up on this.

No idea who the BCA are, but most residents I've spoken to have no faith in Brymbo Developments after the saga of the past decade. They promised over a thousand jobs; what we actually have is a ludicrously high-density development without any infrastructures to support it. That residents actually warned about this outcome before the development started is a sign of just how slow-witted WCBC and BCC were in dealing with this developer.

Good on you Plaid: you have plenty of support.

Anonymous said...

I was born in Brymbo, I worked in the steelworks and have lived through the changes that Brymbo has gone through (not all for the better).Yes,the residents on the new estate have been badly let down by the developers but then again so have existing residents. The promise of jobs to replace the ones we lost never materialized and Tanyfron have managed without services and have done so for years, so the residents on the new site are not on their own when it comes down to broken promises. I believe the blame lies at the feet of the developers and building even more houses is not the answer. You only have to look at the effects it is having on our on our roads (that is not rocket science, more houses more cars) I ask the residents of the new site to think about how all this has also affected us in old Brymbo and Tanyfron, not for 2 years or more but for the last 20 years, as no one else seems to be taking us into account in all this.

disgruntled ex-resident said...

You have to ask the question what do the people in the older part of the village actually want?

The steelworks closed over 20 years ago and ever since there have been many who have not been willing to accept the fact the community changed from that day on and slept walked into the current situation.

Residents did not support community facilities that closed, refused to engage with new families who came into the village and people didn't get involved with community groups in the village and at the root of it all this was politics

The Venture Hall, the tenants and residents association, the youth club, the Enterprise Centre - all failed or failing because of politics.

As a former resident of the community I say hats off to the newcomers to the village who are getting involved in the community.

Anonymous said...

The last comment is quite correct.. you only have to look at the community council to see how political this community is.

Anonymous said...

And here we are another year down the line and still we are no further forward. Clearly the BCC are intent on excluding new residents and the whole planning debacle continues.

How long can the debate go on as to what should have happened. We are still in the same situation so something has to change. As a resident the virtual isolation and mass housing estate in the middle of nowhere is not what I want, nor surely is it what the surrounding areas want.

Sense has to come in to this at some point rather than the petty, small minded politics evident just by the responses on this blog.

The mentality that new residents are incomers is just incredible in this day in age - this is supposed to be a community when the whole topic has becoming nothing more than a platform from individuals - whether that be the developers or the local councilors, to operate on the basis of self gain and point proving.

Clearly those involved in the decision making are hell bent of point proving regardless as to whether it is at the determent of everyone else.

Just how will the estate evolve with no schools or amenities. 12 months for a planning appeal - it beggars belief and no wonder business and investors who may reinvigorate the area to bring jobs and a future will certainly look elsewhere.

Never has the expression'politics' been easier to see as being at the root of this saga.

I would also like to remind the BCC that the new residents contribute a significant amount to their funding and exclusion of representation from the BCC is wholly unacceptable. I find the situation a complete disgrace and do wonder just how the outcome of last year's planning meeting had gone if those involved where not so completely detached from the grim reality of living without basic services.