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Housing and retail plans for Llay Royal British Legion site back up for debate

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Monday, Feb 25th, 2019.

Controversial plans for a ‘hybrid’ mixed use development in Llay will be debated by councillors for a second time next week.

The outline plans, which have been submitted by the Royal British Legion, propose that ‘around 51 dwellings’, the re-siting of a war memorial and a boxing club are built on land surrounding the Llay Royal British Legion on Watts Dyke.

It is also proposed that a 4,000sqft shop fronting Llay New Road to replace the former Co-op at Shones Lane which closed in December 2016 due to a fire, is developed on the site.

This would also comprise of 26 parking spaces and a service area.

As part of the plans the Llay Royal British Legion would continue to operate, with planning documents stating there will be a “consolidated external area, including a service yard to the rear and 60 parking spaces, maintaining the existing access.”

It is the second time such an application for the site will go before planning committee members, with initial plans refused in summer 2018 amid concerns of further pressure on local schools and GP surgeries.

However the application has once again been recommended for approval by Lawrence Isted, the head of environment and planning at Wrexham Council, subject to securing a Section 106 agreement to contribute to schools and improvement of the play facilities at Alyn Waters Country Park.

But local councillors and residents have once again raised concerns about the plans and their potential impact on local infrastructure.

Cllr Rob Walsh, said that allowing more houses to be built in Llay during the current climate would be “irresponsible”.

He said: “Llay Health Centre is full to bursting. Llay residents struggle to obtain a GP appointment at present. With the likely closure of Gresford surgery, the addition of 362 houses on Gresford Road and 18 houses south of Llay Miners Welfare shows that Llay is being developed at a faster rate than the infrastructure is being provided.

“To add another 51 houses to the Llay Community is very irresponsible in the current climate.

“BCUHB’s silence over this issue is not evidence that everything is OK. Unless BCUHB are prepared to invest in a brand new health centre for Llay fully equipped with the required number of staff, then no further development should take place in Llay.

“As a result, I believe this application breaches Policy GDP2 as the capacity of infrastructure will be deficient as a consequence of this development.”

He continues onto say that the Llay Royal British Legion holds several major events every year and the loss of car parking space would see an increase in visitors parking on Llay New Road and Watt`s Dyke when a big event takes place.

Such fears are mirrored by Cllr Bryan Apsley, who says he does not agree that the club, residential and retail uses will make a complimentary mix and that the roads of Llay are not “fit for any increase in traffic”.

He also questions previous statements by the applicants, adding: “RBL Club Officials were told in November 2016 that there was a plan to have 36 houses on the site and then we were told at public meetings in January 2017 that it would be 63 houses; how can we have any faith in anything their representatives say?”

Despite the fears of increased pressure on local infrastructure, a response submitted by BCUHB about the plans states that it has no objections to the proposals.

In its comments the health board state that its area team were “aware of the potential growth at this site through the LDP (Local Development Plan) process” and that the “team are in discussions with the primary care provider concerning potential expansion of their premises”.

It adds: “Whilst it is not possible to confirm at this stage whether any plans are in place, BCUHB will continue to seek to address these and the potential impact of growth.”

Addressing other concerns raised in his report, Mr Isted said he “remains of the opinion that the development would not undermine the continued viability of the club” and he “cannot provide any reasonable evidence to demonstrate that allowing the development would cause detriment to the facility.”

He also notes that the site has been included in the LDP, which has been submitted for examination in public – adding “there is no dispute that the proposed development is acceptable in principle.”

In his report Mr Isted concludes: “This scheme represents a sustainable form of development within an existing settlement limit.

“The reuse of this previously developed land accords with the principles set out in in Planning Policy Wales and the strategic policies of the Wrexham UDP.

“I am satisfied that the indicative layout of the residential and retail uses represents an efficient use of the site, providing additional community facilities and making a significant contribution towards a shortfall in housing supply.

“There has been a change in circumstances since the previous planning application which require consideration by the Planning Committee.

“BCUHB (Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board), whilst acknowledging the impact of population growth on their service provision, have not objected to this proposal.

“No substantive evidence has been offered to conclude that this proposed development wold have any an impact upon health service provision.

“Similarly, in relation to education provision, mechanisms are in place to offset the impact of residential development upon infrastructure provision.”

If the plans are given the go ahead by the planning committee the council will enter into an obligation under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act requiring the following:

• The formation of a Management Company for the future maintenance by the applicant of all communal areas including driveways, parking areas, hard and soft landscaping, trees and planted features;
• Payment of a commuted sum at the rate of £1000 per dwelling for the improvement of hard and soft landscaping within the neighbouring Alyn Waters Country Park;
• Affordable Housing provision across the development in accordance with the Welsh Government definition
• A contribution towards a shortfall in primary and secondary education infrastructure provision.

Subject to the above being secured by the applicant, the plans will be approved. If such an agreement is not reached within six months, the application will be refused.

The application will be considered by members of Wrexham Council’s planning committee at 4pm on Monday 4th March at the Guildhall. The meeting will also be webcast live on the Wrexham Council website for those unable to attend.

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