Wrexham doubles down on local plan rejection
The county council passed up the opportunity to overturn its “unlawful” decision to refuse to adopt the planning framework, despite being warned about the implications of a potentially costly judicial review.
At an extraordinary meeting last night, Wrexham County Council members voted 30 to 24 against a recommendation to overturn the rejection of the local plan in April.
The North Wales authority, which has been under no overall control since Labour lost its majority in 1999, has been without an up-to-date local plan since 2013.
The strategic framework would outline where and how much development could take place in the county, including allocating space for more than 8,000 homes to be built over the plan period to 2028.
The development plan was ruled ‘sound’ by the Welsh Government earlier this year. Despite this, the council has refused to adopt it amid concerns about a lack of affordable homes provision and that population projections had been overegged.
Last night, members doubled down on that decision, choosing to ignore legal advice obtained by the council that said the authority had acted unlawfully in refusing the plan.
Councillors were also warned that the threat of a judicial review, which is being launched by a group of private sector developers, has “overwhelming merit” and is likely to succeed.
Leader Mark Pritchard was one of the councillors against adopting the plan.
“In my humble opinion. I don’t think the plan is sound,” he said.
“There is democracy and there is the law. We must respect them both. There is no policeman out there waiting to take us away in handcuffs. We are doing nothing wrong.”
He added: “We are allowed to vote any way we want to in this chamber. It is a local development plan. It is not a Cardiff plan, it is not a developers’ plan, it is our plan. We vote on it.”
A judicial review is now likely to go ahead. This could result in the Welsh Government effectively forcing Wrexham to adopt the local plan.
Without an updated local development plan, the old unitary development plan will continue to be in effect.
There are several issues with the UDP, according to the council. This includes the fact that not all of its policies align with the latest national planning policies. The UDP has also proven ineffective of late, with applications and appeals being allowed that do not comply with its contents.