People living in Llay are said to have been left feeling ‘hurt’ after the approval of yet another housing development in their community.
Proposals for 51 new homes, a 4,000 square foot retail unit and boxing club on land surrounding the Royal British Legion Club on Watts Dyke were given the green light earlier this week.
Councillors backed the scheme by a narrow margin despite hearing concerns about the impact on health services.
Llay councillor Rob Walsh (Lib Dem) told a planning committee meeting that capacity at Alyn Family Doctors had hit crisis point, which would only grow worse if plans to close the practice’s branch in Gresford go through.
Planning permission has now been granted for a total of 444 new homes in the village in the last few years, including 362 houses on Gresford Road, which were approved on appeal.
Cllr Walsh said people in Llay had lost faith in the planning system and called for a new fit-for-purpose health centre to be built before any more houses are created.
He said: “It was always going to be tough, but what’s hurt me the most is the hurt it’s caused for the community because it’s another kicking for the village.
“It’s Gresford Road, it’s the Legion, it’s the Welfare, plus we’ve had another 12 affordable houses. The public have no confidence in the planning system anymore and they feel it’s failed them.
“We weren’t opposed to the development per se, but what we were saying is it wasn’t the right time. We just wanted healthcare dealt with first.”
The development has also led to a dispute between the RBL’s central headquarters in London, which was behind the plans, and club members in Llay.
The local branch said it feared the loss of a large section of its car park could lead to the club’s closure and condemned the charity for its actions.
They added that an alternative proposal to build a memorial garden had been ignored.
Following the decision, the club has now issued a statement criticising Wrexham Council officers and planning committee members.
It said: “All the speakers against the application quoted the dire and unacceptable state of health care provision in the village and surrounding affected areas.
“Despite excellent and substantial submissions from Bryan Apsley and Rob Walsh, both local councillors, demonstrating the desperately poor health care facilities, the view was that the health board has the responsibility to provide adequate health provision to the area.
“It obviously does not matter that their decision to allow the build of more houses, and don’t forget the Gresford Road development of 350 houses and those on the old rec, will make an already desperate situation even worse.
“Hiding behind ‘material planning considerations’ is an excuse and planning laws are there to protect communities, not destroy them.”
In a report published ahead of Monday’s debate, the council’s head of environment and planning Lawrence Isted warned councillors they could be accused of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ if they were to refuse the plans on health and education grounds.
Speaking on behalf of the planning agent Guy Maxfield also stressed the cost implications for the council.
A bid to have the proposals thrown out for the second time was outvoted and they were later approved.
By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme).
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