Campaigners ‘relieved’ after Welsh Government stage late intervention on new school to be built on Wrexham field
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
Campaigners have expressed their relief after a local authority was ordered not to approve plans to build a new primary school on a field in Wrexham.
Councillors were on Monday due to discuss proposals to create a school for 315 pupils on the Nine Acre field on Chester Road, along with 45 nursery children.
However, the Welsh Government staged a late intervention at the end of last week after revealing it had been asked to consider whether to call the application in for further scrutiny.
The application to allow St Mary’s Catholic Primary School to relocate to the site from its current base in the town centre attracted almost 360 objections.
It followed stern opposition to the plans by Wrexham Council from people living in the Maesydre area over a claimed shortage of green space.
Members of the Nine Acre Campaign Group, which was set up against the proposals, said they were pleased with the decision being delayed.
In a statement, they said: “The Nine Acre Campaign Group welcomes and is relieved by the decision of Welsh Government to consider calling in Wrexham Council’s planning application for the Nine Acre field.
“The application is in clear breach of national and local planning rules designed to preserve open spaces for the benefit of local communities.
“And it rides roughshod over the hundreds of genuine objections planners have received from local residents relating to the traffic chaos and environmental damage it will do.
“While we recognise the importance of providing fit for purpose primary school buildings in the town, the Nine Acre field is a very bad choice of location for this.”
The direction by the government prevents the council from granting permission for the proposals while the call-in request is considered.
Members of the council’s planning committee agreed to defer their decision at a meeting this afternoon.
Maesydre councillor Becca Martin is among those who have objected to the application.
But the Plaid Cymru politician said she was concerned over the delay in it being considered.
She said: “This has been an issue hanging over the local community for years and also of course affected St Mary’s school.
“The possible call-in by Welsh Government will mean further delay when I think we all want to see the matter resolved.
“I’m optimistic that ministers will recognise the strength of the arguments being made locally.
“If and when it does come before the planning committee, I’m sure councillors will listen to arguments put forward by local residents and myself about why we believe the council’s planning application is flawed.”
A Wrexham Council spokesperson said it was expected to take up to two weeks for the government to decide whether to call the application in.
If it chooses to instead refer the decision back to the council then it will be considered by the planning committee in either February or March.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Welsh Government ministers have issued a direction under Article 18(1) of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Wales) Order 2012 in relation to this application.
“The direction will enable the Welsh ministers to consider a request for the application to be called in, prior to determination by Wrexham County Borough Council.
“This is a routine procedure for applications which are subject to a call-in request and are likely to be determined in the near future by the respective local planning authority.”
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