Council Planning Officers reject £50m huge ‘low carbon fresh produce’ greenhouses plan
Plans have been rejected for a pair of 7.6 hectare greenhouses located directly between Dwr Cymru’s Five Fords Waste-Water Treatment Works and SecAnim Abattoir, which appears to mean the project is all but dead.
The developers claimed Wrexham would benefit from 150 new, long-term, green jobs by hosting the £50-£60 million pound “cutting-edge, low carbon agriculture project”, however had stressed the window for progress was restricted.
The development had triggered a row between developers and Wrexham Council over the timescales of the application, with claims of an ‘unprecedented absence of communication’ from Wrexham Council’s Planning Department, and a request for a special meeting to hear the matter.
That claim was rejected on the 3rd of September by a Council Planning Officer, who in emails seen by Wrexham.com said, “In this case a number of statutory consultees had either, not formally responded, or had raised issues and concerns which required further information and assessment. These fundamental considerations needed addressing before officers were able to formulate a recommendation.”
“However, despite the delay in validation due to the backlog of applications, following lockdown, we did fast track its registration in an attempt to meet the September deadline. Unfortunately however the whole situation was severely hindered by your lack of engagement with the local planning authority at the pre application stage. You did not for example, seek any pre application advice, when some of these concerns could have been addressed at a much earlier stage.”
“With regards to communication, I do take issue with your comments. Since the application was lodged, apart from our initial telephone conversation I have not received any emails or phone calls from you or from anyone else in your company. As is the case with the majority of local planning authorities dealing with a high volume of applications, the onus is upon you as the applicant to track the progress of your own application.”
The developers reiterated the lack of communication claim, telling Wrexham.com on the 15th of September, “We cannot contact the planning department, both the case officer and the case officer’s line manger are away on holiday. If we gain permission for the greenhouse in October that will result in the project not being able to proceed.”
A delegated decision on the application has now been made, meaning that the proposal did not make it before the Planning Committee of councillors, rather it was decided by an Officer under delegated powers.
- The proposed development lies outside the defined settlement limits and would comprise of major development within the open countryside. To allow the development would be contrary to Policies PS1, PS2 and PS4 of the adopted Wrexham Unitary Development Plan.
- The proposed development, by virtue of its siting and scale within a visually prominent location would have a significant adverse impact upon the wider landscape. Development in this exposed location would be highly conspicuous and detrimental to the wider visual amenities of the area. It does not make a positive contribution to the appearance of the nearby locality and as such would be contrary to Policies GDP1 (a) and PS2 of the adopted Wrexham Unitary Development Plan.
- The submitted plans and supporting information fail to demonstrate that there is sufficient capacity within the existing local highway network to accommodate the proposed development. No baseline traffic flows or capacity assessments of the key junctions have been provided. Given the current circumstances new meaningful traffic count data cannot be obtained at this time and without this data and the assessment it is not possible to establish precisely what impact the development will have on the highway network. To allow the development in the absence of this information would have a detrimental impact upon the capacity of the local highway network, contrary to Policy GDP1 (a) of the adopted Wrexham Unitary Development Plan and Welsh Government TAN 18.
- The application fails to demonstrate that the proposed development would be detrimental to the maintenance of the favourable conservation status of the Great Crested Newt population at this site. Whilst the proposals show an increase in mitigation land there is no information on the mechanism which will be used to ensure its long term management. The future management of mitigation land is fundamental to whether the proposed development will be acceptable. To allow this development without this information would have a detrimental impact, contrary to Policy EC6 of the adopted Wrexham Unitary Development Plan and Welsh Government TAN 5 Nature Conservation and Planning.
- The application fails to demonstrate that the proposed development mitigates against impact on breeding birds of priority in Wales. Breeding bird surveys were undertaken too late in the season to ensure that all species were accounted for. In addition, no information on lighting is provided which is fundamental to whether the proposed development will have a detrimental impact upon wildlife including European Protected Species such as bats and otter. To allow the development without this information would have a detrimental impact, contrary to Policy EC6 of the adopted Wrexham Unitary Development Plan and Welsh Government TAN 5 Nature Conservation and Planning.
- The Flood Consequences Assessment does not provide any indication as to what the potential flood depths/velocities could be for the site access. The existing site access is located in Zone C2 and Cefn Road frequently floods in this location with recent incidences of road closures. In the absence of any detailed technical investigations to evaluate the extent of the flood risk at the Cefn Road entrance, the application should not be permitted. To allow the proposed development in the absence of this information would be contrary to Policy EC12 of the adopted Wrexham Unitary Development Plan and Welsh Government TAN 15 Development and Flood Risk.
With no planning meetings scheduled, and October looming, it appears the project is “not being able to proceed”.
The greenhouses, that were scheduled for construction in the spring, would have captured both waste heat and carbon emissions from Dwr Cymru’s Five Fords Waste-Water Treatment Works and use them to grow up a claimed 40% of the tomatoes consumed in Wales.
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