Approval proposed for controversial housing development despite strong objections from community
Controversial plans to build more than 80 new homes in Summerhill could be given the go ahead next week despite fierce opposition from the local community.
Planning committee members will be asked to approve the proposals for 82 homes on land west of Top Hill at their meeting on Monday afternoon.
Macbryde Homes originally applied to create the large development in the Summerhill area of Gwersyllt in August 2017.
It has been anticipated that the application would finally go before the committee last October, however the decision was pushed back until February’s meeting.
It is noted in next week’s planning report that should the plans be approved then development could commence later this year and be completed in 2023.
However both the original and amended plans have been met with strong opposition from Gwersyllt Community Council, which described the proposed siting of the development as “ill-considered” and outside the settlement limit.
In its objections, the community council continues onto say: “The proposal is, in the council’s opinion, contrary to a number of existing planning policies that have been put in place to protect green barrier land from inappropriate development and to safeguard the character of villages.
“The council fears that the proposed development will generate a significant increase in the amount of local traffic and is concerned about the impact on road safety particularly having regard to the unsuitability of the existing local highway network.
“Top Road is very narrow with poor visibility at the Top Road/Bottom Road junction making it difficult for traffic to move freely. Wrexham Council’s own highways officers have expressed concerns about the application and its impact.”
Gwersyllt West councillor Gwenfair Jones has also argued that the proposed development is contrary to planning policy.
In 2017 Cllr Jones held a public meeting about the plans, with 35 of those who attended objecting to the development.
In her objections Cllr Jones states that the development is not sustainable and goes against the Well-being and Future Generations Act due to poor infrastructure and that the “Green Wedge Review states the green wedge for area six Moss Valley should be retained.”
Concerns have also been raised by the council’s highways department, which states that it is unable to support the application and that the “proposed development is likely to generate an increase in vehicular and pedestrian traffic along a highway lacking in adequate footway provision and consequent additional danger to all road users.”
However Lawrence Isted, chief planning officer at Wrexham Council, has recommended that the development is approved subject to a Section 106 arrangement being secured for:
– The provision of affordable houses. 25% of the total number of dwellings built on site shall be affordable;
– The payment of a commuted sum in order to secure the full 25% affordable housing as required by Local Planning Guidance Note 28 in the event of part of the affordable housing requirement being less than a full dwelling unit.
– The management and maintenance on-site public open space;
– Financial contributions towards primary education.
If this is secured the chief officer would be given delegated authority to approve the final form and content of the obligation.
In his report Mr Isted says that although the development will “inevitable result in a significant change to the character and appearance of the site” it “represents a logical extension to the existing built up area and will not result in a significant intrusion into the wider landscape.”
Addressing the concerns about the width of the pathway, Mr Isted states that although it will be “comparatively narrow”, “it should be remembered that at present there are pedestrians (albeit limited in number) that are choosing to walk along Summerhill Road in what is currently the carriageway.”
He adds: “Whilst it may not be possible for a parent and a child to walk site by side, in my opinion it is far safer for them to be able to walk clear of the carriageway rather than on it, even if it means a parent walking behind their child.”
The report concludes: “It is acknowledged that the proposals conflict with UDP policies as a result of being outside of the settlement limit, within a Green Barrier and including BMV land.
“However this must be balanced against the age of the UDP, the acknowledged housing need, an on-going and considerable undersupply of housing, an identified need for affordable housing and the considerable benefits to highway safety that would be brought about as a result of road and footway improvements the scheme will deliver.
“I am satisfied that the proposals present an acceptable form of development and that there will not be an unacceptable harm to highway safety, residential amenity, foul and surface water drainage, ecological considerations or to community infrastructure.
“Because of the significant need to bring forward housing land in my opinion there is a strong case to grant planning permission for a shorter time period than is normally the case.
“Therefore the recommendation below includes a condition giving two years for the commencement of development as opposed to the usual five.”
The application will be debated by planning committee members at their meeting on Monday 3rd February at 4pm. The meeting will also be webcast on the Wrexham Council website.
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