Calls for Wrexham field to be opened to public following school plans rejection
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
Calls have been made for a field in Wrexham to be opened to the public after plans to build a school on it were refused.
Councillors turned down proposals to create a primary school for 360 children on the Nine Acre field off Westminster Drive at a meeting held yesterday (Monday, July 25).
The decision was made in light of a significant level of public opposition over the loss of green space and the impact on parking and traffic.
Officials from Wrexham Council argued the scheme was needed to allow St Mary’s Catholic Primary School to relocate to the site from its current base in the town centre and provide improved facilities.
They told planning committee members that the Nine Acre was not classed as public open space as it is currently fenced off.
Their comments came despite one councillor describing seeing children scaling the barrier to play football on his way to the meeting.
After the application was rejected, campaigners have now urged the local authority to allow the land to be used by members of the public.
Members of the Nine Acre Campaign Group, which was set up in opposition to the school plans, said: “We are delighted that common sense has prevailed and that the council’s short-sighted and insensitive plan to build on Nine Acre Field, one of Wrexham’s few remaining open green spaces, has been rejected.
“In theory, this decision could lead the way for the council to finally open up Nine Acre Field for public use, something it stated it would do back in July 2004, but has as yet, failed to deliver.
“The campaign group feel that children should not have to scale a 6ft high steel fence simply to play a game of football.
“Ultimately, we hope this sends some important messages to the officers at Wrexham Council.”
Cllr Phill Wynn, the council’s lead member for education, told yesterday’s meeting the site had never been classed as open space after historically being used as a school field.
He said the proposed school would only occupy part of the land and would allow approximately 1.1 hectares to be made available to the public.
A planning officer warned the refusal of the plans would not result in the site becoming accessible to residents.
Matthew Phillips said: “As the report sets out, the refusal of the application would not facilitate another use of the site or make it accessible.
“All we can be certain of is the continuation what the site is used for at the moment.
“The development will deliver 1.1 hectares of open space, which would go a considerable way to addressing the shortfalls identified in the open space survey.”
The field was most recently used as a training ground by Wrexham AFC under a lease agreement with the council.
However, the club has been using alternative facilities following its takeover by actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.
The campaign group’s call to open the field has been supported by local councillor Becca Martin.
The Plaid Cymru representative for the Maesydre ward said: “I hope everybody can unite behind ensuring community access to field now.
“There are too many youngsters taking the risk to scale the fence and we need to act sooner rather than later to avoid injury.
“But that demonstrates the need for a playing field in the locality and I’ll be pressing for youth teams to have better access to the site in the longer term.
“In the short term, children are now on their summer holidays and families could do with having that extra space to play and relax.”
A petition has been set up by Plaid Cymru which can be found at: www.wrexhamplaid.cymru/unlock_the_9_acre
Wrexham Council has been asked to comment further.
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…How long before that land is sold off?