AN APPLICATION for enabling works has been submitted to Wrexham Council to speed up a major housing development after stricter nationwide measures concerning river pollution were introduced.
Two years ago Bellway Homes secured outline planning permission on appeal to build 112 new homes on a site to the north of Gatewen Road in New Broughton.
But at around the same time, 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 rivers, such as the River Dee, which affects Wrexham.
For the past two years Natural Resources Wales, the Welsh Government and local authorities have been working together to try and find a solution to the problem, which has caused planning applications to be turned down on that single issue, and developers become wary of even submitting proposals.
In a bid to make progress, Bellway Homes has now submitted an application for a raft of enabling works to take place, ranging from the construction of site access to making safe a former reservoir and disused well which can be undertaken without having an impact on phosphate levels.
A supporting letter submitted with planning documents has been sent to Wrexham Council planning officer Matthew Phillips by the senior planner for consultants Lichfields on behalf of Bellway Homes, seeking approval.
It states: “In February 2021, outline planning permission was granted at appeal for up to 112 dwellings at the site.
“Bellway subsequently acquired the site and reserved matters approval was granted for 112 dwellings in October 2022.
“Whilst the OPP (outline planning permission) established that foul flows would be discharged via a pumped solution to the public combined sewer leading to the Five Fords Wastewater Treatment Works; the actual connection point was left to be agreed following the completion of a hydraulic modelling assessment by Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water [DCWW].
“As such condition 15 was attached to the OPP which requires the submission of a sewerage scheme to satisfactorily accommodate the foul water discharges from the development prior to the commencement of development.
“The required modelling work and connection point has subsequently been agreed between Bellway and DCWW.
“However, new advice from Natural Resource Wales (NRW) now sets stricter standards for phosphorus deposition impacting on the Bala Lake and River Dee Special Area of Conservation.
“Bellway is a member of the Wrexham Phosphate Developer Consortium which, alongside the Home Builders Federation [HBF], is directly engaging with the Council and other key stakeholders including NWR and DCWW in order to establish a permanent solution to the issue.
“Following discussions with the Council as local planning authority, it has been agreed that Bellway will be able to commence some site works by securing planning permission for a package of enabling works which have no impact on the aforementioned phosphates issue.”
According to the application, a solution to the issue of foul sewage to allow the development is still to be found but discussions are taking place with Wrexham Council.
The letter adds: “All of the works proposed under this application already benefit from detailed planning permission.
“The application simply seeks to secure a mechanism to allow some site works to commence in advance of a wider foul sewage solution being identified. This approach has been discussed and agreed with the LPA (local planning authority). It will ultimately lead to homes being constructed more quickly and thus result in sustainable development.”
Wrexham Council planners will make a decision on this enabling works application at a future date.