Councillors hit out at lack of progress at “site of neglect” in Wrexham city centre
Councillors have spoken out about the lack of progress made in redeveloping an eyesore site in the city centre.
Planning committee members were asked on Monday (December 4) to grant a five year extension for works to begin at the former Ebeneser Chapel, on Chester Road.
The site, opposite Coleg Cambria and next to the War Memorial, has stood derelict since 2017 after planning permission was granted to demolish the former chapel to make way for new apartments.
However work has yet to begin with the site remaining an ‘eyesore’ ever since.
In 2021 Wrexham Council granted approval to extend planning permission for a further five years, subject to a Planning Obligation towards off-site open space improvements being secured.
At the time the applicants stated that redevelopment of the site had been delayed due to “Brexit, covid and the associated business conditions.”
But the application is one of many with an outstanding Planning Obligation currently being reconsidered due to a phosphates issue raised almost two years ago.
At Monday’s meeting councillors raised their frustrations at the lack of work that has taken place at the site, with some questioning whether a shorter development extension should be granted.
Stansty councillor I. David Bithell proposed an extension of three years for the development of the site.
He also recommended that a condition for temporary fencing to be erected around the site takes place in the next two two months.
This was backed by Hermitage councillor Graham Rogers, who said: “I think there comes a time whereby we’ve got to put the onus on the developer, and I support David (Cllr Bithell) entirely in relation to what he’s proposed.”
However David Fitzsimon, Wrexham Council’s chief officer for economy and planning, warned that reducing the timescale for development is not “going to achieve what you want to achieve”.
Mr Fitzsimon said: “We grant planning permission for a scheme and then it is within the developer’s gift in terms of at what point they decide to develop within the scope of the planning permission.
“If we were to give this a 12 month permission and they didn’t start, then there is a reasonable chance that they’d simply reapply again.
“I don’t think there is a mechanism in planning terms to achieve what I think what you’re trying to achieve, which is to chivvy the developer along.
“I think that’s beyond the scope of the planning system, that’s a commercial decision for the for the developers.”
Gresford councillor Jeremy Kent described the land as a “site of neglect”, but recommended that councillors back the five year extension.
He also moved that fencing is erected around the site within the next two months.
The proposal was backed and voted on by a majority of planning committee members.
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