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Plans to convert former pub into housing approved despite concerns from residents

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Thursday, Nov 7th, 2019.

Plans to convert a former Wrexham pub into housing have been given the go ahead, despite concerns from residents and councillors over the redevelopment.

The application for the Oak Tree Inn on Ruabon Road were submitted for consideration earlier this year.

As part of the plans the pub would be converted into three two-storey houses, while three further new properties at the rear of the property by redeveloping and extending an outbuilding.

The application was submitted after its owners said it was no longer viable as a commercial enterprise.

However on Monday a majority of planning committee members voted in favour of approving the development, despite attempts by some councillors to reject the application or visit the site before making a final decision.

Concerns had been raised that by residents and Offa councillor Alun Jenkins that the sale of the pub hadn’t been advertised locally or for long enough.

Nicola Hughes, who spoke against the application on behalf on local residents, said she was concerned that she and others had not seen advertising board locally.

She said: “Maybe the days have gone for the local public house and this is not a viable option financially, but there was no opportunity given locally to purchase the property and provide alternative amenities for local residents, such as a possible coffee shop or a small restaurant.

“Due to the amount of properties planned, as local residents we feel this will have a negative impact on parking in the local area.

“Although each property has been allocated two parking spaces each, there is no visitors parking. This will have a detrimental effect on overloaded parking problem in the area.”

The concerns were echoed by Cllr Jenkins, who added: “News of the imminent closure of the Oak Tree in April came as a shock.

“Local residents didn’t know it had been sold and they didn’t know it had been available for sale.

“Concerns have been expressed locally that the quick sale had been carried out with no local publicity and the submission of plans so soon after the closure of the pub had not been expected.

“It was advertised at a national level but certainly there wasn’t any advertising at a local level.”

Cllr Jenkins also raised concerns about the size of the proposed development and argued it would be better suited being used for two houses, rather than the proposed six.

But Mr Steven, the applicant for the development, said that “Marston’s had been trying make this work for many years and made the decision it wasn’t worthy of further investment.”

He also stated that the building had been advertised on the internet, boards on the property as well as “trade and local press.”

Cllr Dana Davies said she was unable to support the application and called for the development to be refused for not satisfying Policy S9 in terms of the advertising that the property was for sale.

She said: “It is difficult to find the sale in the ether of the internet without having to go looking for it.

“I also have huge concerns about the quality and standard of the accommodation. We have a number of policies now, not only from the council’s own policy and what we’re doing from a housing strategy point of view. But we have also got Welsh Government guidance on the quality and standard of accommodation.

“I do believe even though we haven’t caught up with our guidance, I do believe as a planning committee it is something we have to consider. We shouldn’t be considering any accommodation that we believe to be substandard. That has to be part of our consideration.

“We want to give the best offer in Wrexham, not a minimum standard offer. I think there’s enough policies out there to ensure any standard of accommodation is good quality accommodation.

Cllr Davies added: “I think there is a better version of this application.”

However planning officer David Williams said there is “no distinction in terms of advertising it locally or nationally, the policy says all reasonable attempts to sell or let the business over 12 months.”

Mr Williams continued: “The thing to bear in mind is this criteria is there to establish whether it is viable or not and whether the premises are no longer viable.

“We have also received substantial information from the applicants and landlord which demonstrates it been running at a loss for considerable period of time. The turnover on many occasions has been less than £100 a day.

“It is always regrettable that we lose a public house, but in this instance not talking about a single public house in a small community where it maybe the only facility in the settlement.

“Whilst I can accept the concerns and desires to see it converted to two and not three, it is not something we are being asked to consider. We have to consider it on its own merits.

“We know there is significant demand for that type of accommodation in Wrexham town centre.”

He added: “Small shouldn’t be confused with substandard. We know the demand is out there for that type of facility, it isn’t for us to deal with issues of the size of rooms and the layout internally. Your remit is to consider the impact of the development on the wider locality.”

Planning committee members voted in favour of approving the proposals by nine votes to six.

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