Posted: Mon 20th May 2024

Appeal after Christmas tree farm and reindeer centre plans rejected for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Monday, May 20th, 2024

An appeal has been launched after plans for a Christmas tree farm and reindeer centre near the Wrexham/Flintshire border were narrowly refused.

Wrexham Council’s planning committee rejected the partly-retrospective proposals to change the use of grazing land of Llay Road in Cefn-y-Bedd at a meeting in November last year.

The application sought permission for a Christmas tree farm, reindeer centre, paddle boarding facilities, the extension of an existing lake on the site and the creation of bark footpaths.

A new building to provide office space was also proposed, along with a machine and equipment store, storage space for hay and straw and facilities to provide medical treatment for reindeer.

Further elements included a car park and new access point on the road between Cefn-y-Bedd and Llay.

The scheme was refused by a single vote due to river pollution concerns caused by a potential increase in phosphates and pedestrian safety issues.

However, applicant Clint Shaw has now lodged an appeal with Planning and Environment Decisions Wales in a bid to have the decision overturned.

It comes after a planning agent acting on his behalf said councillors were not provided with enough information on the proposals.

In an appeal statement, Steve Goodwin said: “The proposal has been designed to make an efficient use of the land for the benefit of the local community and visitors providing outdoor recreation and access to the open countryside close to existing residential areas.

“Two reasons for refusal were given relating to phosphates and pedestrian safety.

“Unfortunately, members were not provided with all the necessary information to make their decision as some of the material information submitted by the applicants, particularly in relation to the phosphates issue, was not included in the committee report despite requests for it to be included.

“Neither of the council’s two reasons for refusal stand up to close examination of the evidence.”

He added: “The proposal is consistent with the relevant policies of the development plan and encouraged by those policies which seek to promote outdoor recreation uses and access to the open countryside. It is also consistent with the relevant national planning policy.

“We therefore respectfully request that the inspector allow the appeal and grant planning permission accordingly.”

During November’s meeting, Llay councillor Rob Walsh (Ind) spoke in support of the scheme.

He said the Christmas tree farm had already been open for a limited number of days per year via a licence and was popular with residents.

He said: “Everyone I know who has visited has said what a brilliant attraction it is.

“This has the potential to be a really good attraction not just for Llay but the whole Wrexham area.

“I will work with the applicant, officers, highways and planning to make sure that this development is not only a success but doesn’t add to any environmental pollution or problems.”

However, planning officers told the committee there were “insufficient mechanisms” in place to mitigate the impact of phosphates.

Llay’s other councillor Bryan Apsley (Lab) opposed the proposals due to highways and pedestrian safety concerns.

He said that he felt the interests of a private business were being prioritised over the safety of members the public.

Chair of the planning committee Cllr Morris used his casting vote to refuse the scheme after councillors were split down the middle, with seven votes for and seven against.

The appeal will be decided by an inspector appointed by the Welsh Government at a later date.

By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter

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