Councillor on the Case

The Curious Case of Croes Atti

The debate in Westminster over the need to rip up Green Belt to help developers build houses seems totally daft. With thousands of plots already having planning consent, why not build first on what’s already approved? This English debate resonated in Flintshire’s Council Chamber during the Planning Committee on 5th September. YET again, we were debating an application from Anwels, owner of the massive Flint Croes Atti site. I’ve lost count of the number of applications submitted by the developer but this latest one to me really smacked of arrogance.

Last December, the Planning Committee had debated the need to erect a barrier that would give the Prince of Wales Avenue residents some sort of quality of life once the traffic flows on and off the site picked up. It was a really heavy debate that after much arguing was put to the vote. I was in the chair & I thought it would be lost as our planners had recommended acceptance! Members went against officers and threw their recommendation out even though our Planners were content that traffic was manageable around the site!

The result of the independent traffic survey seemed odd! Flint’s always been a bottle neck and could get worse with plans to regenerate the centre. The A55’s been chocker for years; Shotton is a nightmare to get through. The Northern Gateway Industrial zone is soon to be open and this alone must surely create a whole new traffic problem for the area. The roads leading into Croes Atti need all the protection they can get.

Against this backcloth of traffic movement, members were right to be sceptical about the result of the Traffic Management survey. I certainly did not know how the conclusion was reached that the potential traffic increase would not severely impact on the Croes Atti area! With 683 new houses on the drawing board this was an interesting recommendation. Prince of Wales Avenue has two schools, a residential home and no off street parking. Not a good place for the hundreds of cars that any new build will create.

Anwels appealed our December decision on grounds that it was legally wrong in law. (Ultra Vires). A senior council legal adviser is present at every Planning Committee and our decision was lawful. Anwels do not want a barrier and used the appeal process to have the debate put before a new committee. Labour is now the largest group and wanted to support officers. Nevertheless, the Planning Committee threw this latest application out too. This was a good decision. I expect that Anwels will appeal.

The history of a site goes back to 1999 when outline consent was given and firmed up in 2004. Since then the committee has dealt with a series of applications and we are even awaiting the outcome of an appeal for supposed non-determination.

We all want the houses to be built as there is a pressing need. Much new build is progressing well across the county and so why has Croes Atti stalled for so long? Now the developer is facing a new challenge as planning policy has developed over the years. The number of affordable houses and these better facilities should now be embraced by developers. This seems to have created a bit of a problem for Anwels which is one of the reasons for so many appeals I assume. Or is there another reason?

Mortgages are like hen’s teeth but Buckley and Northop are all being but on so they are around. Why does Anwels keep stalling? Can we be told why please?

Should we not enforce any condition allowed to commence the length of time to develop a site?. This condition is always imposed. If the developers can’t or won’t develop, should not the Planning Committee ask why and then dictate on a solution. Of course, when the next application is laid, naturally I will be strictly impartial.

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