This evening Wrexham Council’s Planning Committee met to discuss and vote on, amongst other things, a controversial development in Brymbo.
Two applications from Brymbo Developments Limited were essentially being considered as one. The first was for outline planning permission for a residential development, the other being for a retail based development. The meeting was told at one point that ‘one without the other wont work’.
Officers informed the meeting that ‘in normal circumstances we would resist’ the proposal however due to the issues raised, mainly over the funding and guarantee of delivery of a much promised spine road, it was a unique development. They added the road issues would be sorted out via a Section 106 agreement and a bond. This was a position the Officers were ‘comfortable’ with, and thus recommended approval.
In an almost ‘catch 22′ situation Councillors were told that they could vote for the proposals, and therefore a legal agreement could be in place alongside a bond to deliver the spine road. However, if they voted against it would be likely an appeal would be won due to a land supply issue and if that was a case the Section 106 agreement and bond may not be attached – therefore meaning no spine road.
Chairman of the meeting, Clr Morris referred to the concerns saying “People are suspicious and worried due to the history of this issue”.
Mr Evans, a local resident, spoke against the residential development saying his community can take no more building:
“300 houses became 600, larger than Tanyfron, placing facilities under huge strain and now the developers want to build more houses, risking damaging the communities irreparably.
“We are told that the developers will not be contributing to our overcrowded school or providing affordable housing. Basically, the developer is not fulfilling its obligation to the community instead funding works to fix an existing defect – this is disgraceful especially as according to Companies House records, the company paid out £14.7 million bonuses.”
Mr Ferguson spoke in support of the application from Brymbo Developments Limited telling the meeting funding was not available for the spine road without the developments:
“Why should BDL do this with no direct benefit to the funds of the company?”
Mr Ferguson explained that the development would be an ‘enabler’, “allowing future development to take place”. In practical terms this means that the proposals will open up surrounding areas for future development, and therefore we would guess, possible profits.
Clr Paul Rogers, Councillor for Brymbo, spoke broadly in support of the proposals saying it was notable “there is not one single objection to the retail application”.
“In the absence of external funding development is the only way forward”.
Clr Pritchard said “BDL have previously promised alot and not delivered” and queried elements of the wording of the proposed agreements. Specifically the sections regarding what defines commencement of the road building and what type and quality of road could be delivered.
In response to his queries Mr Pritchard was told that the agreement would ensure that the road would be complete inside 12 months of the residential development starting and if this did not happen the bond money would be used to ensure this did occur. Further queries revealed that the bond was based on figured calculated last year and are not linked to inflation with the figure agreed and not further adjusted if costs rise for any reason.
Clr Arfon Jones asked if any contamination studies had taken place in the context of the recent issues raised in Coedpoeth and other areas over lead. Mr Jones was told that such a study came under previous developments and had already been addressed and ‘signed off on’. He was also told that the issues in Coedpoeth relate to older smelting sites that are 2-300 years old, rather than the more modern Brymbo site.
Clr Kevin Hughes was one of many who spoke saying they were ‘not convinced anything will be built’ , referring to the spine road. Also asking if the money would be spent on a primary school as well as a road, he was told no as the money would be going to build the road.
Clr Kelly did not hold back, referring to the developers as ‘slimey’ referring to the development companies historic ‘failure to deliver’.
Clr McCann was another in a long line talking about the spine road delivery and concerns if the guarentees were firm enough, stating he would prefer that the related roads were put in prior to any development saying “get it done”.
As we reported live from the chamber:
Move to vote stopped as pointed out amendment is to get the spine rd completed prior to any development. Vote on that taking place.
— Wrexham.com (@wrexham) September 2, 2013
Amendment rejected 8 for 8 against Chair against. Main motion vote 9 for 8 against so planning is APPROVED.
— Wrexham.com (@wrexham) September 2, 2013
We have written before about a view of a planning decision and how agreements are treated with developers – in this case the ‘Wrexham Village’ development – you can read our article from 2012 here.
The debate and vote earlier in the Guildhall is provoking an ongoing debate on social media, with some being for and against the decision and processes – here is a sample of some tweets floating about the ether this evening:
What went on in @wrexhamcbc Planning Cttee was an affront to democracy and a good day for developers when yet another precedent was set.
— Arfon Jones (@ArfonJ) September 2, 2013
@amygavin79 Subject to legal agreements being signed and the land being sold I am confident the spine road will be constructed.
— Paul Rogers (@cllrpaulrogers) September 2, 2013
@cbradshaw1984 School overcrowded no new one guaranteed, traffic, merging of 2 villages, against every planning policy list goes on
— J Boardman (@JBoardman) September 2, 2013
@wrexham brilliant news about spine road.
— Rich milne (@Milney007) September 2, 2013
— Toffee Apple (@altyapple) September 2, 2013