Posted: Wed 30th Sep 2020

Blueprint for around 7,000 new homes in Flintshire put forward for examination despite over a thousand objections

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Sep 30th, 2020

A blueprint for about 7,000 new homes in Flintshire has been put forward for examination, despite more than a thousand objections.

Members of Flintshire Council yesterday, Tuesday, September 29, voted to send its proposed Local Development Plan (LDP), which indicates where houses could be built in future, to inspectors appointed by the Welsh Government.

It also outlines employment sites which could deliver up to 10,000 jobs over the next decade.

The decision was made in the face of 1,033 objections, with two housing plots in Ewloe and Hawarden attracting the largest amount of feedback.

However, the majority of councillors supported the submission of the document for further consideration after being warned that refusing to would leave the county prone to unwanted schemes.

Speaking at the start of the virtual meeting, Andy Roberts, the local authority’s planning strategy manager, said: “A failure to submit the plan really leaves us vulnerable to more speculative development.

“There’s no better example than on the planning agenda tomorrow where the next speculative site in the queue is being considered by the committee in terms of a proposed development at Plas Anney in Mold.

“We will also fall foul of Welsh Government who may well use various ministerial powers to either direct us to submit or even take over the process.

“That loss of control can’t be anything that we’d support, either as officers or members having taken the plan to the extent we have.”

The Welsh Government has already indicated that it is “broadly supportive” of the strategy, including the level of homes and jobs proposed.

The two main housing developments would be at the Northern Gateway site in Deeside, where 1,300 homes have been earmarked, along with 300 more at Warren Hall in Broughton.

Meanwhile, the council said the same two locations also had the potential to deliver between 8,000 and 10,000 jobs by hosting businesses.

Some opposition councillors voiced concerns that the plan was too focused on the Deeside area, with not enough benefits for other parts of the county.

They included Cllr Richard Jones from the Independent Alliance, who represents the Buckley Bistre East ward.

He said: “The lack of a Flintshire county plan has resulted in a Deeside plan being used as a document to evidence and underpin the LDP.

“The Deeside plan has only ever been consulted by the Deeside Partnership, the Deeside Business Forum, Deeside county councillors and town and community councillors.

“Other documents and evidence also used to underpin the LDP appears biased towards Deeside at the expense of other areas of the county.”

His views were echoed by Mostyn representative Patrick Heesom, who claimed his village had also been left out.

He said: “The fundamental issue about the plan which is of concern is that it’s designed around the Northern Gateway and Warren Hall – two strategic sites at the opposite end of the county to where I am.

“Mostyn is an area of some distinction and history. It’s the gateway to the Dee itself, it’s the place where the only regional dock is located and is featuring now in some massive energy projects. It is also the gateway to tourism on the coast.

“The problem is that the area and anything west of Holywell has virtually been chopped off this plan.”

Officers denied that Mostyn had been ignored and said the dock had been recognised in the plan as one of the main employment areas.

While worries were also highlighted about the impact on roads and health services, they added that the document would help to improve the county’s infrastructure.

Cllr Chris Bithell, Labour’s cabinet member for planning and public protection, said it was important for the blueprint to progress.

He said: “We need to get this done. We recognise the inherent dangers of not having an up to date plan in place.

“We have seen the consequences of that in recent years where we have been presented with speculative developments which, though we have refused them locally, have then gone to an appeal and been overturned because we’ve been unable to demonstrate a five year land supply for housing.”

A recorded vote was taken and 46 councillors backed submitting the proposals to the Welsh Government and the Planning Inspectorate, with four abstentions and three against.

Public hearings are expected to be held by inspectors to scrutinise the LDP early next year.

A final report will be issued in October 2021 and will be binding on the council.

Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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