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Council preserves and protects parks from being developed

PLANS to prevent Wrexham country parks from being developed have been approved despite question marks over where boundary lines will be drawn.

Senior councillors were told yesterday (Tuesday, October 13) there had been an increase in people visiting green spaces to exercise during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has led to Wrexham Council earmarking a total of ten sites in the county borough to be preserved for recreational use, including Alyn Waters, Ty Mawr and Moss Valley.

The proposals would see the land dedicated as part of a permanent legal agreement under the “Green Spaces for Good” scheme run by the Fields in Trust charity.

However, members of the ruling independent/Conservative executive board were challenged over the logistics of the plans at their monthly meeting.

It came after the council’s deputy leader admitted maps of exactly which areas of the parks would be covered had yet to be drawn up, despite blueprints with red lines round them being included in a report.

Labour leader Dana Davies said she was concerned it could impact negatively on Wrexham’s Local Development Plan (LDP), which is currently being considered by planning inspectors.

She said: “I have overlaid the map in this report with a map in the LDP and it’s exactly the same boundary.

“There’s already been issues and it’s already been a difficult process.

“Why publish the maps if the report is telling us there’s no boundary? It’s still quite vague.

“I think we’re putting the final report of the inspector massively at risk with this report today.”

Fields in Trust has worked with a number of organisations to protect green spaces via a deed of dedication.

It forms a binding legal commitment, which requires owners to preserve sites for recreational use in perpetuity.

Council leader Mark Pritchard said his group would be supporting the proposals after backing the removal of a suggested Gypsy and Traveller site within Alyn Waters Country Park in Llay from the LDP.

Although the LDP process has yet to be completed, the independent politician insisted it would not harm the key planning blueprint.

He said: “I’m not prejudging anything because the inspectors will come back to us, but I will not support putting Gypsies and Travellers in a country park.

“Coming back to the LDP, that will take its journey and come back to full council in the future for a decision.

“But this will not jeopardise the LDP. We’re making a decision here with regards to country parks to protect them in perpetuity.”

The council’s legal officer said the report did not detail the exact areas of the parks to be protected and therefore would not prejudge the process.

However, Cllr Paul Rogers also raised concerns over the LDP after being contacted by legal experts in the field of planning.

He also said there was a need to protect other green spaces in the area from development.

In response, deputy council leader David A Bithell said the plans would have a positive impact on the area, with further work to be carried out to decide the boundaries and identify other locations for inclusion.

The authority’s lead member for environment and transport said: “I don’t want this report to be negatively received because we’ve drifted into matters that I don’t think should be considered at the executive board, because it’s outside our remit.

“The recommendations of the report are quite clear that there is further work to do.

“These are only outline plans because the country packs are quite wide and far reaching and cover many hectares across the county borough.

“This is a good story for Wrexham and I wouldn’t want us to drift into negativity when we’re trying to support local communities.”

The plans were approved by executive board members at the end of the debate.

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