Posted: Thu 13th Aug 2020

Morrisons aims to find alternative use for land in Saltney previously earmarked for library

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

A supermarket chain is aiming to find an alternative use for an area of land near one of its stores in Flintshire.

The plot near the Saltney branch of Morrisons was originally set aside for a library as part of a planning agreement between the retailer and Flintshire Council when the store was first built in 2010.

The proposals later fell through because of the site’s proximity to a substation, while a separate initiative by Saltney Town Council to create a community hub also failed to materialise.

The seven-year period for the library scheme to move forward has since elapsed and Morrisons wants to pursue other options for the land, which remains under its ownership.

The company had hoped councillors would approve the removal of the obligation attached to a section 106 (S106) legal agreement at a planning committee meeting in April.

However, it was cancelled because of the coronavirus crisis and representatives said communication with the local authority had dried up, despite meetings resuming via webcast.

Morrisons has now launched an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate over the council’s failure to decide on the application to end the uncertainty over the site’s future.

In a statement put forward in support of the appeal, consultants working on the firm’s behalf said: “The S106 supporting statement clearly demonstrates that the library obligations within the S106 agreement no longer serve any useful purpose.

“This appeal statement explains that, whilst the case office indicated on 3 March 2020 that officers are minded to recommend approval of the application, the application has not yet been reported to the planning committee and has not yet been determined.

“The statutory determination period expired on 6 February 2020 and this has not been extended by the council.

“Despite a series of emails and telephone messages to the case officer and the issue of the letter dated 3 July 2020, no acknowledgement or response has been received from the council in relation to any of this communications.

“WM Morrisons Supermarkets (WMS) has therefore been given no indication of the council’s timescale for reporting the application to the planning committee and determining the application.

“Modification of the S106 agreement in the way sought under the application would eliminate the level of uncertainty over the use of the library property and would enable WMS to explore alternative productive uses of the library property.”

In 2018, a Saltney community leader claimed residents had been “let down” by town councillors after plans to build a hub on the derelict land collapsed.

Cllr Veronica Gay said she was “extremely disappointed” that the scheme, which would have included a library, town council office, community hall and medical facility, had not been delivered.

The appeal will be considered by an inspector appointed by the Welsh Government at a later date.

Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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