PLANS for a Christmas tree farm and reindeer centre near the Wrexham / Flintshire border hang in the balance due to environmental concerns.
On Monday Wrexham Council’s planning committee will consider a change of use application for grazing land near Llay Road in Cefn-y-Bedd.
Full permission is being sought, partly in retrospect, to use the land as a Christmas tree farm and outdoor recreation centre.
This includes a ‘reindeer centre’, paddle boarding facilities and water-related activities, extension of the existing lake on-site and the creation of bark footpaths.
The application features a new building to provide office space, a machine and equipment store, hay/straw storage and a sick/maternity bay for reindeer. Also proposed is the creation of a car park, new access and site-wide landscaping.
A design and access statement submitted with the plans on behalf of the applicants by Goodwin Planning Services states: “The proposal amounts to a change of use of land to a mixed use including a Christmas tree farm and outdoor recreation including the provision of a reindeer centre.”
“The proposal will lead to no issues in relation to community safety as the site will be adequately supervised during open hours which, as set out in the Highways Technical Note will be 10am to 5pm between April and October, and 11am to 3pm between November and March.
“Access to the site will be restricted outside of these hours other than for staff and access will be controlled by the proposed stock proof entrance barrier. Access to the existing public footpath will however be maintained.”
The community council has registered concerns about the opening hours, the number of events to be held on-site, car parking arrangements, use of the lake on-site and in the size and use of the proposed building.
But Llay Cllr Rob Walsh (Ind) is supporting the plans, adding that the site and events are popular while recognising a number of concerns including highway safety, pedestrian access and ecology.
But the application has been recommended for refusal due to river pollution concerns.
A few years ago Natural Resources Wales (NRW) published new targets to reduce river phosphate levels in special areas of conservation (SAC) across Wales.
This followed concerns about an increase in phosphate concentrations – which can cause water pollution – in the country’s rivers.
According to the planning officer’s report the Christmas tree farm development proposal is in an area not served by the public sewer network.
The plans explain that foul water drainage for the staff facilities in the proposed building would connect to a private package treatment plant.
Mobile toilets would be provided for visitors, with waste water taken off-site for treatment. The applicant intends to use a licensed carrier to transport and dispose of it at Five Fords waste water treatment plant (WwTW).
But despite this proposal, the planning officer’s report says, “it would not be possible to impose controls on the development by way of condition to ensure that waste water from the site is always treated at Five Fords or another WwTW with an up to date environmental permit”.
The report adds: “The proposed development would be acceptable in principle and would not give rise to visual impact, highway safety or residential amenity concerns.
“Suitably worded conditions could secure measures to protect ecology considerations at site level.
“However, the proposed development is likely to increase in phosphate inputs within the River Dee and Bala Lake catchment. A likely significant effect upon the River Dee and Bala Lake (special conservation area) cannot be ruled out.”
Wrexham Council’s planning committee will make a decision on the proposals when it meets on Monday (November 6).