Kronospan application refused over fears for World Heritage Site

Reporter:

Jonathan Grieve

Fears have been raised that Wrexham could lose its World Heritage Site if plans to allow a new storage unit at Kronospan were approved.

Wrexham Council’s planning committee met at the Guildhall yesterday to discuss proposals for a new raw board store at the factory in Chirk.

Kronospan chairman Mike McKenna told the meeting the store would form the “heart” of the firm’s expansion plans and without it, the entire investment programme it had planned could come to a halt.

But councillors feared a huge impact on the landscape, including at Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Chirk Castle and the nearby Area of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB).

They voted to refuse permission on the grounds of visual impact.

A similar application had been refused permission in 2016 after planning committee members voiced fears over the substantial increase in the mass of the building, a rise above tree level and industrial operators spreading outwards and away from the existing concentration of tall structures.

Cllr Paul Pemberton said: “If you look at the World Heritage Site and Chirk Castle they fetch just as much money, if not more, than Kronospan to the local economy.

”There is a possibility that UNESCO could take the World Heritage Site status from us.

”I think it is about time Kronospan took account of the effect this sort of development is having on the area.

”If the World Heritage Site status of the aqueduct was lost to us, it would be very sad.”

The previous refused proposal was 150 metres in length and 29m in width, with a height of 23m to the eaves and 26.5m to the ridge.

The latest proposal involved a reduction in height of three metres and a 27m reduction in length.

Planning control manager David Williams said the development would be clearly visible from the nearby canal and Chirk marina, as well as the AONB, if it was allowed to go ahead.

He said the existing warehouse was 11.5 metres in height and that the proposed new structure was more than double the height of that.

Chirk south councillor Cllr Terry Evans told colleagues: “If we approve this application I can see the rest of the site would be developed as a precedent will have been set.

”Of course we recognise the impact of Kronospan to the area in terms of employment and the wider impact on the economy.

”There has to be a balance to preserve and protect our environment.

”If the proposals were reduced by a further four metres, I would have no problem with the application.”

A dozen committee members voted to refuse permission for the development, with a further three members abstaining from the vote.

Email:

jonathan.grieve@nwn.co.uk

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