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Committee concerns over impact on World Heritage Site status sees Kronospan proposals rejected

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Wednesday, Nov 8th, 2017.

Storage unit plans for a factory site in Chirk have been refused by councillors amid concerns the development could have on the area’s World Heritage Site status.

Members of Wrexham Council’s planning committee debated the plans to develop a new raw board store at the Kronospan factory in Chirk on Monday.

The proposed development, which features as part of an going improvement £200m investment programme at the factory, was a resubmission of an application which had been refused in 2016

The renewed application had been recommended for refusal by the head of environment and planning, who stated in his report that the “visual impact is not acceptable in terms of the impact of nearby Heritage assets.”

Planning officer David Williams told 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.”

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  reduction height of 3m and a 27m reduction in length.

Mr Williams 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”.

Local member for Chirk South, Cllr Terry Evans told the committee that the application was going beyond national policy and would further damage the visual landscape.

He continued: “For a small town we need to preserve and enhance what we have left. We should consider the affects the development would have to ensure there is no more negative damage.

“If we approve the application I can see the rest of the building will come forward as a precedent has been set. The original warehouse is 11.5m to the ridge and you cannot see it from the road.

“I recognise the importance of Kronospan’s contributions to the local area and I am keen to support their ambition. Can I suggest if the height is reduced by 4m I have no problem with the building itself.”

Chairman of the committee, Cllr Michael Morris, pointed out they could only determine the plans that had been put before them in the application.

Cllr Paul Pemberton, in moving the recommendation for refusal, raised concerns about the risk to the World Heritage Site status if such a development was approved.

He said: “While comments have been made about the benefit of Kronospan to people in the area and the income, I look at the World Heritage Site and Chirk Castle and I think they fetch just as much or more to the local economy.

“Looking as it stands with the size of the chimney, I feel it is a possibility representatives from the World Heritage could say it’s not acceptable and take it off us. It would be an absolute travesty.”

He added: I have no hesitation in moving officers recommendation to refuse.”

A recommendation for a site visit was also put by Chirk North Councillor Frank Hemmings, however this was voted down by committee members.

A vote on the initial recommendation to refuse the application saw 12 councillors vote in favour and three abstain from the vote.

Picture – Google Maps

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