Housing plans for former Wrexham scrapyard approved amid fiery exchange between council leader and planning chairman
Housing plans for a former scrapyard site in Wrexham have received the green light amid a fiery exchange between the council leader and planning committee chair.
An application to build 15 homes on the former Legacy Car Dismantlers and Scrap Yard, near Rhosllanerchrugog, was recommended for refusal by officers from Wrexham Council because of the countryside location.
However, it was given the go ahead by councillors after Cllr Mark Pritchard, who heads up the ruling administration, gave the scheme his backing.
A row broke out during the virtual meeting after chair Mike Morris refused to allow the leader to speak more than once because he is not a member of the committee.
Cllr Pritchard, who represents the neighbouring area of Esclusham, tried to interject shortly after an officer outlined his reasons for suggesting the rejection of the scheme.
His request to make a further comment was abruptly cut off by Cllr Morris, who said: “You can’t come back in I’m sorry Mark.
“Look Mark, when you chair the executive board you don’t let people go to and fro, you stick to procedures.”
“All I’m doing is sticking to procedures. You had your chance to say what you wanted, the local member’s come in and I’ve got other committee members wishing to come in, so please bear with us on that.”
Cllr Pritchard could then be heard describing the decision as “disgusting”.
Earlier in the debate, the independent leader spoke strongly in favour of the proposals, despite the advice of officers that it would “fundamentally undermine” the local authority’s planning policies.
He said the application to redevelop the site had the support of community councillors and residents after becoming a target for crime.
He said: “For years they’ve had issues with anti-social behaviour, fires and everything else that comes with a scrapyard like smells, odours, noise, deliveries and crushers breaking vehicles.
“I always think you should take the opportunity when there’s a planning application in front of you, if you can improve a site why wouldn’t you want to?
“At the moment we have a brownfield site and it’s got a license for a scrapyard so he can carry on as he wants to and continue to scrap and break up vehicles.
“We don’t want that; we’ve had enough of that and it’s where it’s located.
“We have a fantastic opportunity now for yourselves now as planning committee members to support this application and we will move away from the issues of a scrapyard to residential.”
Planning officer David Williams said the reuse of the site for housing was against both local and national policies.
He said the existing state of the land and the problems of anti-social behaviour were not valid planning reasons to justify the development.
The proposals put forward by Gino Paletta from Trailwalk Ltd received the support of a number of local representatives ahead of the meeting.
Committee members also heard from Cllr Paul Pemberton, who represents the area the scrapyard falls under, who said neighbours had been “put through hell” because of fires and break ins at the site.
He said: “At one time my ward was crime capital of the Wrexham borough because of the scrapyard. My figures were through the roof on it.
“All I’m asking is for you to be sympathetic and remember the word betterment.
“This application would better the are and give something back to the long suffering residents of Llwyneinion.”
His comments were backed by Cllr I David Bithell, who said he had attended the scrapyard numerous times in his role as a firefighter.
The committee chose by a majority of 14 to approve the application with Cllr Morris voting against and two abstaining.
The Welsh Government has a statutory period of 21 days after the decision to decide whether to call the proposals in or not.
By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter
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