A planning appeal has been lodged after councillors rejected plans for a new storage unit plans at Kronospan amid concerns about the impact the development would have on the nearby World Heritage Site.
The Chirk based factory had submitted an application to Wrexham Council in 2017 seeking permission to build a new raw board store on the site.
However in November 2017 Wrexham.com reported that the application had been recommended for refusal by the head of environment and planning based on the visual impact not being “acceptable in terms of the impact of nearby Heritage assets.”
During a meeting that month, planning officer David Williams told members of the committee that the proposed development at the site would have an “adverse impact on the visual presence in the world heritage site and the significance of the building in wider landscape.”
He said: “We have been relatively supportive in terms of investment plans the company have had and put forward to us.
“However we are presented with a different proposal, one which will have an adverse impact on visual presence and significant of building in wider landscape. The current application reduces length by only 27m and height by 3m, it is still a large structure.
“We have always accepted previous proposals for tall structures because they tend to be concentrated in one area of the site.”
However Mr McKenna, who spoke at the meeting in support of the development at the site, urged the committee to consider the application “on its merits”.
The application was later refused, with 12 committee members voting in favour of rejecting the plans. Three councillors also abstained from the vote.
It was the second application of its kind to be submitted by Kronospan, after initial proposals in 2016 were also refused.
Initial plans for the development were refused due to the scale of the building, which would have been150m in length and 29m in width, with a height of 23m. The revised application featured a reduction in height of 3m and a 27m reduction in length.
An appeal objecting to the committee’s decision has now been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the applicants.
Commenting on the refusal of the application, the appellants question the planning committee’s decision, stating that it was “refused on the basis of a single reason relating to detrimental impact upon the wider visual amenity, including effects on the nearby World Heritage Site, AONB and Chirk Castle.”
It continues onto say: “Based on the findings of assessments undertaken by the Appellant’s technical advisors, the fact that no objections were raised by Cadw or the Canal and Rivers Trust, and the importance of this development to the future of the facility, Kronospan decided to lodge an appeal against the decision of WCBC to refuse the planning application.
Further information provided in the appeal documents provides a background on why the application has been submitted and why the raw board storage is required at the site.
The documents explain: “As part of Kronospan Vision 2020 a review of the entire manufacturing process has been undertaken, including ways to improve product flow around the factory.
“The reorganisation of manufacturing areas and investment in new equipment enables the handling of products to become more automated, eliminating the need for internal forklift and HGV trailer movements.
“This has significant benefits in terms of the efficiency of the process flow in the factory, which is one of the most important factors in ensuring maximum productivity in mass manufacturing processes.
“Reducing reliance on manual movement by fork lifts also avoids the various health and safety, air quality, noise and waste issues described above.
“As well as increasing the efficiency of product flow the improved raw board store would enable the company to supply product on a timely basis, to adjust to smaller orders and a more challenging product mix as demanded by the market, and to meet peak customer demand.
“Together this would enable more product to be supplied to its customers in periods of high demand, increasing the productivity and efficiency of the business.”
It later adds: “In order to remain competitive and maintain its position as one of the strongest
businesses in the UK market sector, it is clear that Kronospan must continue to invest in the productivity of the Chirk site.
“At the heart of a manufacturing business is whether the costs of production are sufficiently low enough to remain competitive with other suppliers in the market.
“As other industrial sectors in the UK have learned, manufacturing product outside the UK can be one way to reduce costs. The other is to invest in better and more efficient manufacturing techniques and to increase productivity.
“Clearly, Kronospan is seeking to maintain its market position in the UK by investing in the Chirk site. In doing so it is hoping to restore the manufacturing output achieved in the recent past and reduce its manufacturing costs.
“Together these are expected to secure the long term sustainability of the business and safeguard the direct and indirect jobs created by the plant.”
Picture – Google Maps