An application to build 82 houses in Summerhill has been lodged with Wrexham Council, with public feedback so far suggesting the Top Road junction is a priority for improvement no matter the decision.
The application proposes the creation of 82 houses, along with ‘improvements’ to the Top Road junction nearby. The development will create ‘public open space’ via the ‘recreation of historic parkland setting’ and will have an element of affordable housing. There is also a public footpath proposed through the site.
The housing development consists of 2x two bedroom, 31 x three bedroom and 33 x four plus bedroom houses. A further 8 x two bedroom social rented housing, and 8 x three bedroom social rented housing make up the 82 house total.
234 car parking spaces will be created to support those living in the development.
The application states: “Gwersyllt Community Council did not respond to the consultation within the 28 day timeframe. The applicants were keen to meet the Community Council and arranged a site meeting via the Clerk on Thursday 15th June 2017 (outside the consultation period). Unfortunately the meeting was cancelled the day before the meeting with the Clerk advising that ‘…they would prefer to await the submission of a formal planning application before making any comments’.
Such a position is criticised in the application, which notes: “This runs contrary to the whole concept of the pre application consultation process instigated by the Welsh Government which requires applicants to engage with the local community in order to respond to local knowledge and wishes in order to provide improved development schemes.”
25 local residents are mentioned as commenting on the proposal, with 20 giving ‘whole support’, 3 ‘mixed’ and 2 objecting.
Wrexham Council’s Highways Department list 12 comments, including “Mold Road Interchange is already over capacity at peak hours. Whilst acknowledging that the traffic generated by this proposal will result in a less than 5% increase, it will nevertheless exacerbate existing traffic issues.”
The local Councillor Gwenfair Jones objects to the plans, stating: “…the land is unsafe due to a large railway tunnel going underneath the land and also insurmountable highways problems due to the unsuitability of the location for building. I will therefore be formally be objecting to this application when it is submitted for planning consent.”
This is followed by a passionate thirteen point objection list that contains historic information over the site, “There is an old railway tunnel which crosses this particular area. Indeed I believe it used to be a tunnel during the war where people used to go and hide when the bombs were being dropped on the area.”
In addition the local infrastructure is also referenced by the unnamed objector, “We already have an issue that our medical centre cannot find doctors on a permanent basis which is why Betsi Cadwalader now runs the centre with locum doctors. It already is extremely hard to get an appointment within a 3 week period. Yet more housing adds to the problem of people already residing in the area, many of whom are elderly and need the support of a good medical centre”
Many of the examples of support for the development contained in the application documentation focus on the improvements to the narrow roads and ‘really dangerous’ junction nearby rather than the housing itself, perhaps indicating a pressing community priority for the local authority regardless of the outcome of the application.
Areas of green belt land are shown in the plan, with the first image showing a historic view:
The application includes the following picture noting: “However recent developments and planning permissions have meant that certain sites within the Green Barrier no longer meet the aims of the Green Barrier policy….Specifically the following sites no longer meet the aims of Green Barrier policy.”
The diagram lists two developments, Site 1 – Chestnut Court built in the 1990s and Site 2 a recent (2015) application approved for 20 houses – given the green light by Wrexham Council on 14th January 2016.
The lack of a Local Development Plan is referenced: “The latest Wrexham County Borough Council Joint Housing Land Availability Study (JHLAS) for 2013 presents the housing land supply for the area at the base date of April 2016.
The document acknowledges that in the absence of an up-to-date Unitary Development Plan and adopted Local Development Plan (in accordance with latest Welsh Government Guidance within TAN1) there is no requirement for a Local Authority to produce a JHLAS and the authority is considered to have a zero land supply.”
The application documentation concludes by stating: “The proposed site offers a sympathetic and sustainable opportunity for the development and expansion of the settlement, along with significant community and highway benefits for the whole settlement.”
The application is expected to be considered by Wrexham Council’s planning committee at a later date.