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Social housing projects hindered by uncertainty over Wrexham A483 improvements

UNCERTAINTY over whether improvements to pinch-points on the A483 in Wrexham will go ahead is hampering social housing projects, it’s been claimed.

The Welsh Government previously announced it was planning to make changes to four key intersections along the dual carriageway.

Ministers said work was required to address congestion between junction 3 at Rhostyllen and junction 6 at Gresford, as well as to mitigate the impact on the area’s economy.

However, the proposals were placed on hold in June after a review was launched into all new road building schemes in Wales in a bid to reduce carbon emissions.

A senior councillor has now revealed the decision has hindered efforts to create more social housing in Wrexham.

It comes at a time when the number of people on Wrexham Council’s waiting list for accommodation has risen to 3,273.

In a report, Cllr David Griffiths, the local authority’s lead member for housing, said: “There are a number of constraints to the council’s ability to meet scale and pace.

“The lack of certainty about the agreement by Welsh Government and the subsequent delivery of critical junction improvements on the A483 between junctions 3-6 is currently preventing the council from developing new houses on key sites.

“Planning consent cannot be provided until the capacity at these junctions is addressed.

“Until this is resolved, the council will be unable to meet the numbers of units projected in the housing revenue account business plan.”

Cllr Griffiths said other factors had also hindered new social housing schemes, including the poor quality of land owned by the council and the high cost of buying alternative plots in Wrexham.

Despite the setbacks, the authority recently undertook its first council house building project in 30 years on the site of the former Nant Silyn Care home.

Construction also began on a second scheme in Plas Madoc in August, as Cllr Griffiths said the demand for social housing had grown since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “Prior to 2020, there had been a gradual decrease in the number of applicants requesting council accommodation.

“However, since January 2020 the number of households either requesting council accommodation or a transfer to alternative council accommodation has increased.”

“Whilst part of this increase is a consequence of Covid-19, wider definitive reasons have not been identified for this sudden increase.

“It is possible that due to the visibility of council new-build and re-modelling projects and the fact that it has been 18 months of uncertainty for many people, a council property is seen as a good quality housing option, offering more security of tenure.”

A further 19 new-builds are expected to be completed by the council next year.

Cllr Griffiths said resolving capacity problems on the A483 would be “a critical step” towards unlocking more sites for development.

The Welsh Government has been asked to respond to the comments.

The report on the authority’s build and buy programme will be considered by members of its homes and environment scrutiny committee at a meeting on Wednesday (October 20, 2021).

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