Developers behind a scheme to convert space above a shopping centre into more than 50 apartments have been accused of ‘greed’.
It comes after the company working to create 55 apartments on the first floor of Henblas Square in Wrexham town centre attempted to reduce the required contribution towards affordable housing from about £300,000 to just under £29,000.
The Mandale Group has already started work to build 52 one bedroom and three two bedroom apartments above a group of vacant shops after gaining permission in November.
However, it argued the scheme would not be viable unless the original conditions imposed by Wrexham Council were altered.
Strong views were aired as members of the authority’s planning committee chose to defer their decision after they were told of reports the flats had already been sold.
Speaking at a meeting at the town’s Guildhall, Cllr Paul Pemberton (Ind) described the proposed changes as “an absolute disgrace”.
He said: “When I first heard about this over the last few weeks I was very disappointed about it.
“I had concerns about this application in the first place, but the affordable housing swayed me in favour of the application.
“They’re using their naivety or their greed to try to persuade us not to move forward with it (the requirement).”
Meanwhile, Cllr Marc Jones (Plaid), who represents the area where the apartments are being built, said the committee’s decision should be put on hold to seek more accurate information from the developers.
He quoted from a Daily Post article where the company said they had already sold all of the apartments. Wrexham.com ran similar information, and below is the relevant exact quote in the release local and regional media had from Mandale representatives:
He said: “This is in my ward and there is affordable housing need there.
“Whereas I am supportive of the regeneration of the town centre, it shouldn’t be at any cost.
“I don’t think we should be just giving developers what they want because the difference between what they originally offered us and what they’re trying to get away with is £270,000 and that’s an awful lot of money.
“I don’t like to be cynical but I equally don’t like to be given an ultimatum of like it or lump it.
“The comment’s been made that work is already well under way and they have estimated work will be completed at the end of this month.”
Council officer Matthew Phillips recommended the proposed change in contributions should be approved after the firm submitted a viability assessment. He said it was a choice for councillors over whether or not to prioritise the regeneration of the town.
However, the majority of the committee voted in favour of Cllr Jones’ proposal to delay their decision pending the receipt of further details.
By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme).
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