Appeal launched following rejection of plans to demolish Hawarden monastery
An appeal has been launched after plans to demolish a monastery in Hawarden to make way for houses were thrown out.
Eccleston Homes applied to knock down the Poor Clare Colettine Monastery in May last year.
It came after a community of nuns based in the village for more than 90 years decided to relocate to Nottingham because of mounting maintenance costs.
The developer’s proposals to create 15 detached houses at the green barrier site on Upper Aston Hall Lane were recommended for approval by Flintshire Council officers ahead of a meeting in December.
But planning committee members sided with the local community, who opposed the scheme amid concerns it would harm birds and other wildlife.
Their decision to refuse the application has now been challenged after an appeal was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.
In a statement, agents acting on behalf of the housing company said the money raised by the plans would help the nuns to redevelop their new base in the Midlands.
They said: “It became difficult for the community of sisters to maintain the large monastery building and its grounds.
“Unfortunately due to reducing numbers and the increasing age of the sisters the decision was made to relocate the sister community to Nottingham.
“The buildings are a purpose built monastery and are not practical to use for other purposes.
“The best option for the community of sisters is to follow the route of redeveloping the site for housing.
“The proceeds from this will be invested in the renovation of the community buildings in Nottingham.”
Ahead of December’s meeting, Flintshire’s chief planning officer backed the proposals, claiming there were “very exceptional circumstances” to justify them.
Andrew Farrow told councillors his reasons included the previous use of the site as living accommodation by the nuns.
He said it would also result in a financial contribution of £55,000 being secured to boost capacity at Hawarden High School.
However, Edna Ward, who lives next door to the monastery, warned granting permission would harm birds and other wildlife.
She said: “We strongly object to the removal of an established hedgerow.
“The large red tail and common bumblebee have for decades made this hedgerow their habitat.
“Given that there are large numbers of common and rare bird habitats in this hedge, we do not think that current arrangements to mitigate against the loss of such rich, biodiverse wildlife are in any way sufficient.”
The committee rejected the application by eleven votes to five.
The appeal will be decided at a later date by an inspector appointed by the Welsh Government.
Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).
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