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Councillors to debate plans for low secure unit and housing development in Gwersyllt

Plans to build low secure unit providing “care and treatment for people with mental health problems” could soon be given the go ahead – despite concerns about the scale of the development its proximity to a local high school.

Members of Wrexham Council’s planning committee will next week debate the plans to demolish a number of vacant buildings just off Mold Road in Gwersyllt and develop the 54 bedroom, low secure unit on the site.

The unit would be operated and funded by ASC Healthcare – a private company. The report notes that ongoing service fees would be paid by the NHS.

Of the 54 bedrooms, 40 individual resident bedrooms with en-suites, arranged as four separate 10 bed units. These would be available for adults aged 18 and over, providing “care and treatment for people with mental health problems”.

The remaining 14 beds would in the ATU – Assessment Treatment Unit – comprising of 14 individual private resident bedrooms arranged as two, seven bed units. This unit would again be accessed by people aged 18 and over who have experienced a crisis / have complex needs.

The ‘hybrid’ plans, which were submitted to Wrexham Council in November 2017, also consist of a housing development of up to 30 properties.

In addition to the planning application, a supporting statement is included in the planning pack for next week – that starts by giving a definition of what ‘low secure’ means:

However the report due before councillors next week also details several concerns about the development, including from Gwersyllt Community Council who ‘object strongly’ to the plans for several reasons.

One of the main concerns focuses around the potential security implications, which the community council say “have not been fully considered for the low secure unit (in particular regarding the clients of the unit)”.

The community council continue onto say: “We are also concerned that the housing development may be used as tenanted properties for people discharged from the low secure unit.

“The high number of flats seems to indicate that there may be a close relationship between the low secure unit and the planned housing development.”

Concerns have also been raised by Children’s Social Care, who say: “My main concern is the proximity of the site to a residential area and the schools.

“I would also be interested in the capability of the service to manage people/young people who have been in the criminal justice system i.e. Registered Sex Offenders.”

Objections to the development were also submitted by three neighbouring residents, who stated that the development is not in the right location and is too close to existing housing and also schools.

The Health Board have responded to the application, something that can be quite unusual,  by saying they have objections in principle to the development.

“We are aware there is a demand for low secure accommodation within the North Wales Area. We can also confirm there are no specific comments regarding the details of the plans submitted in terms of access to or impact on any Health Board facilities.”

However the application has been recommended for approval by the head of environment and planning, who notes: “Whilst noting the concerns expressed about the proximity of the site to Ysgol Bryn Alyn, I have not been provided with any evidence that the operation of the site will be a threat to the security or wellbeing of children attending the school or the wider local community.”

He concludes his report by stating: “The low secure unit has been designed to maximise site security and as acceptable in terms of siting, layout and design and will provide an important facility in the locality to aid the rehabilitation of adults with mental health issues.

“The development of part of the site for housing is acceptable in principle. Housing can be erected on the site without adversely impacting upon adjacent occupiers, with sufficient scope to meet planning requirements in respect of layout, design, access, parking and public open space.

“The proposals will deliver significant improvements to the access road linking the site to Mold Road and are unlikely to compromise highway safety in the locality.

“In light of the above I am satisfied that the development accords with the relevant UDP policies.”

The report will be presented to members of the planning committee at 4pm on Monday 5th March. For those who cannot attend the meeting it will be webcast live via Wrexham Council TV.

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