PLANS to put a new primary school on a field in Wrexham have been formally submitted in the face of opposition from a local councillor.
Proposals to create a school for a total of 315 pupils, along with 45 nursery children, on the Nine Acre field on Chester Road were posted on the Wrexham Council planning website last week.
It follows parents at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, which is based on Lea Road in the town centre, being told it will relocate to the site.
Some residents in the Maesydre area have voiced their opposition to the scheme and want the land to be turned into a park due to a claimed shortage of green space.
They have now received the backing of Cllr Becca Martin, who was elected to represent Plaid Cymru in the ward after a by-election in March.
She said the application had left many questions unanswered and suggested the local authority’s education department should instead consider putting the building on the nearby Groves School site, which is currently vacant.
Cllr Martin said: “Residents who will be the most affected by the development are rightly concerned about elements of this planning application and I will be representing their views in the planning committee.
“I have also asked for clarity on a number of matters to ensure that residents are able to respond to the consultation in good time – I’ll be keeping everyone informed over the summer.
“There’s no question that St Mary’s needs a new school – the question is whether the Nine-Acre Field is the best place for it to go.”
She added: “The Nine-Acre Field, according to the planning application submitted by the council, is the only site available for education purposes in the town.
“I’ve questioned that, given that we have The Groves currently lying empty with an education covenant on it.”
The site on Chester Road has been fenced off from the community since 2005 following a failed attempt by the council to sell part of it for housing.
The land was was leased until recently by Wrexham AFC as a training base, before the club’s Hollywood owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney secured a return to the Colliers Park training facility in Gresford.
A poll held last year by the Nine Acre Campaign Group, which was set up in opposition to the school proposals, saw more than three quarters of the 126 respondents vote in favour of preserving the field as a park or sports pitches.
However, consultants acting on the council’s behalf said the two-storey building was required to address rising pupil numbers, and would result in part of the site being re-opened to the public as open space.
In a statement accompanying the plans, they said: “The principle of the erection of a new primary school and nursery in this sustainable location within the settlement boundary is considered acceptable.
“The site is well connected to a large residential area and is accessible by sustainable transport routes.
“The design and layout of the site has been designed to make the best use of the site in terms of managing residential amenity, but at the same time to also ensure that the site is safe and convenient to get to by foot or cycling
“The background papers for the Unitary Development Plan confirm that the site has never been classified as public open space (POS), and therefore the introduction of open space for use by the public on the western third of the site will provide a net increase in POS in the area.
“This space amounts to approximately 34 per cent of the land within the application site and there is the possibility of this area being made available for community ownership in future.”
It’s understood the proposals will be considered by the council’s planning committee at a meeting in September.