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Hearing set for plans for 100 homes on former manufacturing site in Buckley

Proposals were put forward in July 2020 to develop the former Glen Dimplex site in Buckley (Pic: FCC Report)

A HEARING is set to be held to decide if plans to build almost 100 homes on a former manufacturing site in Buckley can go ahead.

Proposals to develop land on Drury New Road, which was most recently home to Irish company Glen Dimplex, were refused by councillors in June 2022.

The factory has stood empty since the electrical goods firm relocated its operations to a purpose-built facility at its main headquarters on Merseyside in early 2019.

Mold-based housebuilders FG Whitley and Sons want to redevelop the land in Buckley, which was once home to Optec (Pic: FG Whitley and Sons)

Mold-based housebuilders FG Whitley and Sons applied the following year to create up to 94 houses at the site after claiming it was no longer viable for employment use.

However, members of Flintshire Council’s planning committee rejected the application as they said it was still an attractive option for businesses.

The developers later appealed against the decision to Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW) and a date has now been set for inspectors to consider the case next month.

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A document submitted to PEDW outlining the company’s position disputes the suggestion that the land could be reused for economic purposes.

It states: “There is no reasonable prospect of occupation of the unit, as currently presented, or as a redevelopment opportunity for employment use.

“Comments made by the council pertaining to current or potential market demand for the site for employment use are purely anecdotal and unsupported by proper and informed market evidence.

“As referenced by the commercial agent retained by appellant, who are actively involved in the market on a day-to-day basis, the position at the time scheduled for the hearing, is that the site will have been vacant and marketed for five-years.

“The important factor to note is that it was obviously an effective marketing campaign as it elicited the expressions of interest and further enquiries but, any further interest and moves to acquisition or rental subsequently evaporated and were not pursued.”

Proposals were put forward in July 2020 to develop the former Glen Dimplex site in Buckley (Pic: FCC Report)

Buckley Pentrobin councillor Mike Peers was one of the main objectors to the proposals at the planning meeting in 2022.

Ahead of the meeting, he submitted a document highlighting the lack of available space at Flintshire’s main industrial estates.

Meanwhile, Andy Roberts, the council’s planning strategy manager, said the site was still classified as employment land in Flintshire’s Local Development Plan.

In a statement provided to inspectors last month, local authority officials said: “The county council consider the main issue to be the acceptability of the loss of employment land.

“A significant portion of the period of time in which the site has been marketed coincides with the economic downturn associated with the Covid pandemic.

“With an upturn in economic activity post-Covid and a move away from working from home, there is no inherent reason why the existing unit could not be reoccupied, extended or redeveloped, given the flexibility the site offers.

“The loss of this employment option would be detrimental both from the point of view of its strategic context within the scope of the employment allocations in the development plan, but also from a local perspective.

“The council is of the opinion it was correct to refuse planning permission for this development.”

The appeal will be heard by inspectors at a virtual hearing being held on Tuesday, April 23.

Anyone interested in observing or taking part in the meeting is asked to email [email protected].

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