Council rejects £50m ‘low carbon fresh produce’ greenhouses plan

Plans have been rejected for a pair of 7.6 hectare greenhouses located directly between Dwr Cymru’s Five Fords Waste-Water Treatment Works and SecAnim Abattoir, which appears to mean the project is all but dead.

The developers claimed Wrexham would benefit from 150 new, long-term, green jobs by hosting the £50-£60 million pound “cutting-edge, low carbon agriculture project”, however had stressed the window for progress was restricted.

The development had triggered a row between developers and Wrexham Council over the timescales of the application, with claims of an ‘unprecedented absence of communication’ from Wrexham Council’s Planning Department, and a request for a special meeting to hear the matter.

That claim was rejected on the 3rd of September by a Council Planning Officer, who in emails seen by said, “In this case a number of statutory consultees had either, not formally responded, or had raised issues and concerns which required further information and assessment. These fundamental considerations needed addressing before officers were able to formulate a recommendation.”

“However, despite the delay in validation due to the backlog of applications, following lockdown, we did fast track its registration in an attempt to meet the September deadline. Unfortunately however the whole situation was severely hindered by your lack of engagement with the local planning authority at the pre application stage. You did not for example, seek any pre application advice, when some of these concerns could have been addressed at a much earlier stage.”

“With regards to communication, I do take issue with your comments. Since the application was lodged, apart from our initial telephone conversation I have not received any emails or phone calls from you or from anyone else in your company. As is the case with the majority of local planning authorities dealing with a high volume of applications, the onus is upon you as the applicant to track the progress of your own application.”

The developers reiterated the lack of communication claim, telling on the 15th of September, “We cannot contact the planning department, both the case officer and the case officer’s line manger are away on holiday. If we gain permission for the greenhouse in October that will result in the project not being able to proceed.”

A delegated decision on the application has now been made, meaning that the proposal did not make it before the Planning Committee of councillors, rather it was decided by an Officer under delegated powers.