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Close vote sees detailed plans for 362 homes in Llay approved – concerns remain over land stability and traffic issues

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Friday, Aug 10th, 2018.

Detailed plans for more than 360 homes in Llay have been given approval, despite opposition from campaigners and local councillors.

It was the second time this month that councillors had debated the reserved matters plans for 362 homes at land on Gresford Road in Llay having deferred the decision until a site visit had taken place.

Such a visit took place this afternoon, with councillors met by campaigners who oppose the development at the Home Farm site.

Housing plans for the site have been controversial since their submission in 2015. They were later refused due to concerns about the development falling outside the settlement limit and the increased pressure on local infrastructure.

However an appeal by the applicants was lodged shortly afterwards and an inquiry into the the proposed took place in November 2016.

Outline planning permission for the site has already been established after plans for the site were granted on appeal by First Minster Carwyn Jones last summer.

This message was reiterated to committee members throughout this afternoon’s meeting, with the planning and legal officers warning that there would be a risk of costs to the council if the application was granted on appeal for a second time.

However Cllr Rob Walsh, who campaigned against the development several years ago, argued that the committee should refuse the application and “go back to the drawing board and get this right”.

He listed five reasons for refusal, including preserving of hedgerow and a stone wall, lack of cycle paths and community safety due to increased traffic.

“Whether we like it or not, outline planning permission has been given,” said Cllr Walsh.

“We need to make sure this application is done properly and complements the community. As a result I have come to the conclusion there are still many faults, not in a demeaning way but I feel the site has so many difficulties.”

Cllr Walsh also commented on the alleged issues with land subsidence at the field, stating that he has someone from the coal authority visiting the site next week.

He added that for “for sake of residents let’s get to bottom of this.”

At last week’s meeting Dennis Owen, who spoke on behalf of Gresford Road Action Group, called for alleged issues with land stability on the site to be revisited and addressed.

He said that in 2014 the group had obtained documents from the Bersham Colliery Museum identifying the position and direction of mine tunnels associated with Llay Main Colliery. He stated that such documents had been offered but were declined (more here).

Mr Owen said: “We have been advised that the issue involving land stability should not be revisited, we have taken legal advice on this matter and as the problems relate to flooding and stability on Home Farm is ongoing and has increased dramatically over the last four years, they therefore should and must be addressed.”

As with the meeting earlier this month, the committee were told that issues with land subsidence could not be revisited as outline planning permission for the site has been granted.

It was also reiterated that the land had been classed as low risk by the Coal Authority and that Wrexham Council had followed the correct procedures.

Cllr Bryan Apsley, who also represents the Llay ward, echoed the comments made by Cllr Walsh and moved a recommendation that the plans should be refused on grounds of highway safety, lack of information on plans for the Crown junction and preservation of the hedgerows.

The committee was told that traffic considerations are dealt with in regards to outline planning permission and that previous “surveys demonstrated it wouldn’t be a safety issue.”

The planning officer added: “We are recommending it is approved as it is a high standard of design, with good landscaping and safe means of access. There are a range of house types, variety of layout form and street frontages. From a design perspective it is acceptable.

“It would be unreasonable to refuse this application. If it was refused I am fairly confident an appeal would be allowed and fairly confident applicants would submit an application for costs.”

Such comments were echoed by Overton Councillor John McCusker, who represents Overton, noted that he had lived in Llay previously and that the planned development would “enhance the area”.

After a long debate committee members had two options to consider – approving the plans as recommended by council officers, or refusing the application as proposed by Cllr Apsley.

Cllr Graham Rogers, stating he wouldn’t be popular with those in the public gallery or with some councillors, proposed that committee members accept the officer’s recommendation for approval.

As with the general debate over the housing plans for the site, the vote was split on both occasions, resulting in the casting vote going to Chairman Cllr Michael Morris.

Five councillors voted in favour of refusing the application, with five voting against and one abstaining from the vote. As a result Cllr Morris voted against refusing the application.

A vote to approve the plans saw the same voting system, with Cllr Morris using his casting vote to grant the plans.

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