Posted: Fri 4th Sep 2020

Former Air Products site back on agenda after councillors accused developers of ‘greed’ for people living in or visiting the wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Friday, Sep 4th, 2020

Wrexham councillors are set to debate proposals to reduce the number of homes provided in a new residential development for a second time next week after an initial decision was deferred over the summer.

Planning permission was granted for 232 houses to be built at the former Air Products site in Acrefair back in 2018. It followed the closure of the plant around a decade ago, which resulted in approximately 200 staff losing their jobs.

Wrexham Council gave the go ahead subject to Prospect Estates Limited entering into a Section 106 legal agreement to pay between £1,960 and £2,352 per house towards boosting the capacity of local primary schools.

The outcome of a meeting in June was that further talks were to be held with the owners of the former manufacturing site over providing funding for schools after councillors accused them of ‘greed’.

It came after a request from the developers to remove the requirements imposed require affordable housing and financial contributions to primary schools.

However that was challenged by councillors, who called for the report to be deferred to allow further talks to take place.

Speaking at the time Cefn councillor Derek Wright said: “Our community has four primary schools, which is as many, if not more than any other area in the county borough.

“Other than the Welsh medium school Ysgol Min y Ddol, there is very little room in any of our schools.

“The age of our schools should be taken into consideration as well as Acrefair School is over 100-years-old, Min y Ddol is over 65-years-old, Cefn CP is around 50-years-old and Rhosymedre is around 10-years-old.

“If we don’t get the 106 money for this then we will never get the money for the schools that we desperately need in this area.”

Similar concerns are also raised by Cllr Wright in a report due before planning committee members next week.

In his comments Cllr Wright requests that the the s106 contribution to education is retained and to “help the developers, reduce the number of social housing from 25 per cent to 10 per cent.”

This is echoed by Cefn Community Council, which says it is “willing to compromise on the social housing requirement and reduce the proposed 25 per cent agreement down to 10 per cent.”

The application has been recommended for approval by the council’s chief planning officer, Lawrence Isted, who states: “Whilst the viability of the scheme is likely to be marginal without any reduction in the financial contributions for primary education, it is the removal of the affordable housing that is probably more critical to ensuring the extant permission is implemented.

“As such the applicant has withdrawn their request for changes to be made to the Obligation in respect of the former.”

He adds: “In order to improve the likelihood that the redevelopment of this significant previously developed site takes place it is essential that the extant Planning Obligation is amended to remove requirements for affordable housing.

“This is entirely consistent with the Council’s own viability evidence for this part of the County Borough.”

The report will be debated by planning committee members at a virtual meeting on Monday 6 September.

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