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Decision to grant plans for 22 homes comes under fire

A decision to grant plans for up to 22 new homes on a village site which partly within a conservation area, has been met with criticism.

Proposals to build houses on land north of Station Avenue in Chirk were originally rejected by Wrexham Council’s planning committee in August 2017 after councillors said they would result in the loss of two protected trees in the Chirk Conservation Area.

However, they have now been given the go ahead after the Co-operative Group launched an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, which ruled that the trees were of ‘diminished value’ because of their current condition.

Chirk South councillor Terry Evans has criticised the decision and believes the homes will lie too close to the Mondelez and Kronospan factory sites.

He said: “We’re disappointed that they’re going to wreck the conservation area and that they’re going to take down the trees that are 200 years old, that’s the main contentious issue as far as we’re concerned.

“There’s also never been any houses built on that side of the road for one and a half miles.
“Now, they’re proposing putting houses close to the main Kronospan factory, which we have enough complaints about through noise and dust.

“I don’t think it’s fair on anybody pushing them close to industrial buildings.”

Cllr Evans added that the trees are originally believed to have been planted to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo.

But planning inspector Iwan Lloyd said in his report that there was ‘no tangible evidence’ to support the claim and removing them would have a ‘neutral impact’ on the conservation area given that replacements would be planted.

He said other reasons put forward in support of the development, such as the lack the lack of a 5-year land supply in the county and the economic benefit, outweigh those against it.

Mr Lloyd said: “There is no dispute that the present collective group of lime trees that remain on Station Avenue have a high amenity value are visually important and have historical significance.

“However, individually both trees T5 and T6 have diminished amenity value due to their present condition, stature and size and their long-term value is reduced.

“It is noted that a local history group indicates that the trees may have been planted to commemorate the victory of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

“However, the parties were unable to corroborate these points and the Heritage Impact Statement indicates that there is no tangible evidence of these factual matters.

“I conclude that the impact of felling the protected trees would preserve the appearance of Chirk Conservation Area, given their present overall condition and their moderate amenity value and the proposed mitigation measures put forward in support of the development.”

However, Mr Lloyd rejected a separate application from the Co-operative Group for costs against Wrexham Council.

The decision came after he said he could find no evidence to suggest the authority had acted unreasonably in making its decision.

By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme).

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