08/19/2022

Wales News Online

Local & National News for Wales

Councillors urged to reject controversial plans to build school on Wrexham field

CAMPAIGNERS have made an urgent plea for councillors to reject controversial plans to build a school on a field in Wrexham.

Proposals to create a primary school for 360 children on the Nine Acre field on Chester Road are due to be considered by Wrexham Council’s (WCBC) planning committee next week.

The application to allow St Mary’s Catholic Primary School to relocate to the site from its current base in the town centre previously attracted almost 360 objections.

Members of the Nine Acre Campaign Group are asking politicians to refuse permission after raising concerns over the loss of green space and claiming it would lead to traffic and parking problems.

In an open letter to committee members, campaign group representative, Marcus Jones, said:

“Our two-year campaign to save the Nine Acre Field and open it up for public use has struck a real chord.

“The hundreds of objections received by WCBC’s chief planning officer and planning committee members came from residents all over Wrexham.

“We count on the newly reconstituted planning committee to take these objections seriously, recognise the threat that further losses of green space pose to our city, and reject WCBC’s short-sighted proposal for the Nine Acre Field.

“Don’t let Wrexham become yet another congested, urban sprawl.

“At a time of a climate emergency, as our communities recover from Covid-19, building on it would be an act of environmental vandalism, full of unintended environmental, social and economic consequences.”

A decision was originally meant to be made on the application in January but was delayed after the Welsh Government was requested to call the application in for further scrutiny.

Ministers later chose not to intervene as they said there were no grounds for them to do so.

Further delays were caused by the local elections in May with pre-election rules preventing decisions being made on controversial issues.

Campaigners have asked the council to consider building the new school on the former Groves School site to allow the Nine Acre to be used as a public park.

However, the local authority’s chief planning officer has recommended the proposals for approval to provide improved facilities for pupils attending St Mary’s.

In a report to councillors, Ian Jones said:

“The existing school has a capacity of 287 pupils but nevertheless has 324 full time pupils and 35 part time pupils. It is one of two Catholic primary schools in Wrexham.

“The existing school lacks any green space or playing fields, requiring the use of Belle Vue Park where necessary. In addition, the site has limited space for staff parking.

“Whilst the Groves site has been suggested as an alternative in many of the representations received it is clear that the re-use of the buildings for a primary school is not a viable option.

“Building a new school on the wider Groves site, i.e. the playing fields adjoining the site, may be technically feasible but would present the same issues in respect of the loss of playing fields as this application and offers no material advantages over the current proposals in that respect.

“Having regard to the above, there is an identified need for a site to relocate St Mary’s School in order to provide a modern school premises that is fit for purpose.”

The report acknowledges the lack of open green space in the area but states the proposals will make approximately 1.1 hectares of land available for public use.

It comes after access to the site was fenced off by the council several years ago.

Speed limit reductions to 20mph and traffic calming measures have been proposed along Rhosnesni Lane and Westminster Drive, with 118 parking spaces set aside for school staff and parents.

The application will be decided at a planning meeting being held on Monday, July 25

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