A DECISION to allow plans for more than 100 new homes in a village in Wrexham to go ahead has been slammed as “a disgrace”.
Glyndwr University was originally denied permission to develop a grazing field in New Broughton in July 2019 in the face of opposition from the community over the loss of green barrier land and the impact on traffic.
However, it was announced yesterday (Monday, February 15) that the decision by Wrexham Council’s planning committee had been reversed by a Welsh Government-appointed inspector following an appeal.
The university has welcomed the move with the sale of the site on Gatewen Road set to help fund improvements worth £60 million to its main campus on Mold Road in the town.
Residents and local councillors have been left outraged though after being taken by surprise by the announcement.
It was expected that objectors would be able to have their say on the scheme for 112 houses as part of an inquiry, but the Planning Inspectorate unexpectedly issued a written decision notice on Monday after the coronavirus crisis hampered efforts to hold a hearing.
New Broughton councillor Alan Edwards said the way the development was handled had left him ashamed to be a member of the local authority.
He said: “People are feeling betrayed and I can’t blame them.
“The main thing the inspector picked up on is that they need the money to pay for the other parts of the scheme when everything should have been looked at on its own merits.
“Everybody’s been waiting for the inquiry and to me what’s happened now is a disgrace.
“As local members, we had to hear through the press and we feel badly let down, disrespected and we don’t blame the people for being mad and angry.
“I apologise to everybody for letting them down and today I’m ashamed to call myself a Wrexham councillor.”
Councillors previously approved seven of the nine applications put forward by the university as part of its Campus 2025 programme.
But the New Broughton proposals were rejected alongside an application for 74 properties on a sports field on Dean Road in Rhosnesni.
During the planning meeting, council highways officer Peter Douthwaite criticised the impact the two developments would have on the area’s roads.
In response, inspector Aidan McCooey said he believed any issues would be addressed by proposed improvements to the main junctions off the A483.
Glyndwr University said the campus improvement project would deliver a number of benefits for students and the wider community.
A spokesperson said: “This is great news for our students, staff and visitors and will help to transform our campuses in Wrexham.
“All Campus 2025 investments will underpin the quality of the student experience we offer and ensure we put our students at the heart of everything we do.
“We are committed to investing in our students and have already delivered a number of new facilities, such as two new social learning spaces – The Study and The Gallery, the acquisition of Wrexham Student Village and brand new state-of-the-art teaching spaces as part of our Campus 2025 strategy.
“The land sale at Gatewen is key to the delivery of our Campus 2025 master plan and the funds to be generated will help enable the development of excellent facilities for our students, boosting investment and benefiting our region as a whole.”
Meanwhile, the Planning inspectorate has defended the way the case was dealt with.
A spokesperson said: “The appeal was originally to be dealt with by a hearing but due to the restrictions put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus the hearing had to be cancelled.
“To avoid further delay, we were requested that the appeal be handled through the written representation process and this was agreed.
“Interested parties had been given the opportunity to make representations and submit comments on the appeal prior to the change in the process to written representations.
“In reaching a decision, inspectors will give full consideration to the views of all parties and the comments and evidence submitted at the time of the appeal, taking account of current planning legislation, policy and guidance.”