Posted: Fri 19th Jun 2020

Objections raised as developers of former Wrexham chemical factory site try to drop requirement to fund school places for people living in or visiting the wrexham area

Objections have been raised after the developers of a former Wrexham chemical factory site asked for a requirement to fund school places to be dropped.

Permission was granted for 232 houses to be built at the Air Products site in Acrefair in 2018.

It followed the closure of the plant around a decade ago, which resulted in around 200 staff losing their job.

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.

However, the company is now seeking to remove the obligation, along with another to make a quarter of the properties affordable, claiming it would render the scheme unviable.

The request will be considered by the local authority’s planning committee at a virtual meeting next week.
Community leaders have voiced their opposition to the changes ahead of the decision.

In their response, members of Cefn Community Council said: “Cefn Community Council do recognise that if the development was to be built it would be a benefit to the community.

“Concerns were raised relating to the potential increase of children which would require admission to the local school could not be fulfilled without recognising the need for another school to be built to accommodate the potential extra numbers.

“The council object to removing all stipulations currently in place and strongly object to the removal of the existing section 106 agreement.

“The council are willing to compromise on the social housing requirement and reduce the proposed 25 per cent agreement down to ten per cent.”

Among the bodies who have asked for the school contributions to remain in place is the council’s own education department.

In an e-mail to the planning department, school places manager Paula Parry said there was already “pressure and oversubscription” in the area.

But chief planning officer Lawrence Isted has recommended that councillors should agree to remove the requirements.

In a report, he said the development was unlikely to go ahead with the obligations still in place, highlighting the derelict appearance of the site and its proximity to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage Site (WHS).

He said: “The development is likely to generate in the region of 50 pupils of primary school age based on the mix of houses shown in the indicative plan that accompanied the outline application.

“Education have confirmed that there is limited capacity at the nearest primary schools to the site and as such would continue to request a financial contribution.

“The District Valuer Services have indicated that within the Cefn Mawr and Rhos sub-market area sites may not be viable if other financial contributions are sought even with a 0 per cent affordable housing requirement.

“As already noted above this takes no account of additional development costs associated with the remediation of previously developed sites.”

He added: “It is currently a large derelict piece of land that detracts from the appearance of the area as well as the approach to the WHS.

“The extant planning permission presents a significant opportunity to bring the site back into beneficial use whilst also substantially improving the approach to and setting of the WHS.”

The proposals will be considered by the committee at a meeting on Monday .

By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme)

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