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Developers behind Henblas Square developments launch appeal over planning committee decision

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Tuesday, May 7th, 2019.

The applicants behind the redevelopment of Henblas Square have launched a bid to overturn a decision made by councillors last month. 

In an appeal submitted to the Welsh Government on behalf of The Mandale Group, the planning committee is described as having acted “unreasonably” after refusing a request by the developers to reduce its contribution towards affordable housing. 

Planning permission to convert the first floor of the Henblas Square development into 53 apartments had been approved in November 2018, despite concerns from some councillors about the lack of parking for future residents. 

At the time it was agreed that The Mandale Group provided a sum of around £300,000 towards the cost of affordable housing elsewhere in the county borough. 

However the company had been accused of greed at a planning committee meeting after it attempted to reduce the sum to just under £29,000. 

A revised viability appraisal put forward by the company showed a profit of just over £250,000 if the changes were allowed. 

But last month the application from the group was rejected by committee members, with some raising strong objections after questioning the figures put before them. 

Now in the appeal submitted on behalf of the company by ELG Planning, it is noted that the company will be seeking “full award of the costs  against the decision of Wrexham County Borough Council as the Local Planning Authority [LPA]) on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour, which has caused the appellant to incur unnecessary expense in the appeal process”. 

In a letter to the planning inspectorate, ELG Planning state that the “decision to refuse the application against the recommendation of Officers was entirely unfounded and, crucially, not based on any evidence. ”

ELG Planning, add: “In refusing the application for the stated reason, the council have not only gone against the recommendation of their officers, they have done so without any reasoned justification. 

“At the committee meeting on 1st February, certain figures within the viability appraisal were questioned by member, and in response the appellant clarified and updated the viability appraisal accordingly, providing the necessary evidence where appropriate. 

“Despite this, the council seemingly chose not to accept the evidence provided, even though they had no evidence of their own to dispute this. 

“This lack of council evidence (to dispute evidence provided by the appellant) was something that was specifically highlighted by the lead planner during the meeting, and again, the council simply chose to ignore their officers. 

“It should also be noted that during the 1st April Committee meeting the appellant offered to have the viability appraisal assessed independently at their expense, proposing that the application be deferred while this was carried out. 

“The council, despite the aforementioned lack of evidence, declined the appellant’s offer and refused the application. 

“On this occasion – with a projected profit of just 8% (£254,294) – it is clear that the appellant was fully entitled to submit a viability appraisal (as was also the case when the original viability appraisal was submitted, as this still only projected a 16% profit even when there was no affordable housing contribution). 

“The appellant contends that the behaviour of the council has been totally unreasonable on this occasion, and as a direct result has incurred unnecessary costs associated with instructing their professional consultants to address this issue thoroughly as part of the appeal. ”

A decision will be made by the planning inspectorate at a later date. 

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