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Rossett housing plans on derelict farm approved

Gamford House, Rossett (Pic: Google Street View)

PLANS to build ten new homes on a derelict farm in a Wrexham village have been approved despite concerns it will harm a rural area.

Councillors met yesterday (Monday, March 4) to decide on an application to demolish existing farm buildings on the Gamford House site in Rossett to replace them with houses.

Developers behind the scheme said it would bring a site which has stood empty for over a decade back into use, with the new properties planned to have a net zero carbon rating.

How the houses on Gamford Lane in Rossett would look (Pic: Wrexham Council planning documents)

A senior planning official from Wrexham Council recommended permission for the proposals by Urban Developments Limited should be refused.

It came after concerns were raised that it would harm the rural character of the area and have a negative impact on a protected species of newts.

However, planning committee members chose to go against the advice of Wrexham’s chief planning officer David Fitzsimon.

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The decision was made after a planning consultant acting on behalf of the developers told the meeting that the site had become a hotspot for crime and anti-social behaviour.

Neil Culkin said: “The site remains vacant, and if not developed, it will continue to attract crime and anti-social behaviour.

“In fact, the police are called out so often to the site that they have their own keys.

“Each home has been designed to be zero-carbon, in line with the latest government objectives.”

He added: “The applicant is fully committed to protecting all endangered species at the site.

“With a significant housing shortfall borough-wide, why should the application not be supported?”

Plans shared with councillors showed the application would result in the demolition of the main farmhouse, along with several workshops, barns and pens.

Local councillor Ross Shepherd was among those who spoke in favour of the scheme during the meeting.

He said: “The site on Gamford Lane is a blot on the current landscape of Rossett.

“It has been derelict for many years, and has been a target for vandalism and antisocial behaviour, which has been a drain on services.

“The plans which has been put to us give a 50 per cent reduction in the carbon footprint, which increases the openness of the surrounding countryside significantly. It will improve the area for all the residents of Rossett.”

Cllr Hugh Jones, who is the council’s lead member for planning, also spoke in favour due to the site previously being used for industrial purposes.

However, he said he was doing so in his role as a local councillor for Rossett, rather than as the relevant portfolio holder.

Planning officer Matthew Phillips advised committee members not to grant permission due to the impact on a rural area.

He said: “The site is 300 metres from the edge of the settlement limit, so it is clearly in open countryside.

“Policy states that new building in the open countryside should be strictly controlled.

“This is a new-build residential development, proposing the complete demolition of all existing buildings and erection of ten new dwellings

“If we were to grant permission for this tonight, you would find yourself in a very difficult position where somebody has a farm complex or another building complex in the countryside and wants to redevelop them rather than convert them.”

The proposals were approved by eight votes to four at the end of the debate.

The application will now need to go to the Welsh Government to decide whether to call the decision in as it represents a departure from the council’s normal planning policies.