A reported lack of new houses in Wrexham has been used as justification for about 200 new dwellings to be created in a village outside the town.
Wrexham Council’s planning committee refused an application for a development of up to 189 homes in Rhosrobin in early 2017.
It came after councillors raised concerns about the potential loss of green barrier land to the east of Tan y Bont, off Llay New Road.
However the Welsh Town Planning and Housing Trust, which applied jointly with Liberty Properties, later launched an appeal in a bid to overturn their decision.
A public inquiry into the proposals was held at Wrexham’s Guildhall this morning, where a planning inspector appointed by the Welsh Government heard evidence from all parties involved.
Kay Sheffield was told that less than half of the 517 new houses a year outlined in Wrexham’s emerging Local Development Plan (LDP) had been achieved in the last five years.
Barrister John Barrett, representing the applicants, said: “The bottom line is the average of last five years has been 241 completions a year, where as the LDP requirement over the same period would be 517 as an average.
“I think that must mean that in the short term that there are in excess of a thousand houses that should be built that haven’t been built.
“The councillors are striving to get their local plan to adoption in the recognition that they don’t have a supply. We are not hitting the 500 homes per annum, in fact we are nowhere close to it.”
Planning officer Matthew Phillips, who represented the council, conceded there was a shortfall of houses in the area.
However, he said the authority’s position was that the sites included in the LDP would be sufficient to meet the need without the proposed development in Rhosrobin.
He said: “As things stand at the moment it’s not a site we feel we need to deliver to meet the requirements of the LDP. Clearly our position has to be that we believe those are deliverable and those will meet our housing requirements.
“The argument for not supporting this application remains the same as when the decision was made.”
Legal representatives highlighted the amount of current green barrier sites being put forward for housing in the LDP as further evidence in favour of the scheme.
They also brought up a recent application for approximately 130 houses on green barrier land in Rossett, which was recommended for approval by officers, but refused by the planning committee.
Phillip Morris, managing director at Liberty Properties, claimed there was a ‘large demand’ for new homes in Wrexham.
He said: “People are saying they want to buy a house in the place they were brought up in. That’s why sites like this need to be built because there is a demand for housing.
“They actually had people queuing outside the site office when they released places at Erddig Place”.
When questioned further, Mr Phillips conceded that the proposals would make an ‘important contribution’ to the amount of new houses. He added that the site would also be a ‘strong candidate’ if more houses were required in the LDP.
Mr Phillips said: “Unwittingly I think I’ve done a good job of putting obstacles in my own path with another application.
“We have a suite of allocations in the plan that meet the requirement and our position is we don’t need to release any more greenfield sites at this time.
“I will accept that the reasons for refusal of this application have now probably been largely addressed through the subsequent application.
“Unfortunately it’s a matter of timing and I have to support the position of the LDP and that we don’t need further sites.”
After hearing the evidence Ms Sheffield will submit a report to the Welsh Government within the next five weeks to inform its decision on the appeal.
Mr Phillips said it was in the interests of all concerned for it to be concluded ‘as soon as possible’.
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