An appeal against the refusal of a small housing development on land surrounding a historic monument has been thrown out.
Wrexham Council officers rejected proposals relating to the former Wynnstay Colliery site in Ruabon because of concerns about how it would impact the listed Walker Fan House building.
The structure was built in 1902 to ventilate the colliery and Cadw has described it as being of ‘national importance’ because of its potential to enhance knowledge of industrial practices.
Steven Davies, who is behind the plans for up to six houses, submitted an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate in February in an attempt to reverse the local authority’s decision.
But an inspector appointed by the Welsh Government has now dismissed his case after concluding the scheme would have a negative impact on the building.
Outlining her reasons, Kay Sheffield said: “The erection of two storey dwellings to either side of the fan house would enclose the heritage asset and significantly alter the surroundings in which it is viewed.
“It is understood that there are currently no plans to stabilise the structure and hence any fencing required to secure it on grounds of health and safety would increase the sense of enclosure.
“Although the application has been made in outline, I am concerned that the development would significantly alter the current setting of the fan house and its relationship with the vertical winding engine house.
“There is also the potential that the appeal site may contain archaeological remains relating to the previous industrial use of the land.
“I have concluded that the development as proposed would have an adverse effect on the setting of the heritage asset.”
Ms Sheffield said the scheme had the potential to increase flood risks at the site and would be detrimental to highway safety.
She added there were no factors which outweighed her concerns.
Walker fans were first patented in 1887 and the building in Ruabon housed a fan measuring approximately seven metres in diameter. Like many structures in the area, it was built using red bricks.
Ms Sheffield made her decision despite assurances from a planning agent that the scheme would not harm the fan house.
Dafydd Edwards from Blueprint Architectural Services said: “During the course of a previous application, a meeting on site with a CADW representative, planning officer and conservationist confirmed an application which included the area outlined as the ancient monument couldn’t be supported.
“With direction provided during the site meeting, Blueprint set out to ensure a new proposal did not include an area as outlined by CADW as the ancient monument.
“This would then ensure no harm would be placed on the registered site and the area could remain un-touched.
“The development includes six dwellings on the site which demonstrated a good use of land available.”
By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme).
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