LAND at a Wrexham country park should never have been earmarked for a Gypsy and Traveller camp, campaigners have declared after highlighting a long list of issues.

Residents living in Llay voiced strong objections when part of Alyn Waters Country Park was included as a potential site in Wrexham Council’s Local Development Plan before its submission last year.

They have now taken their concerns directly to an inspector appointed by the Welsh Government as part of public hearing designed to test the validity of the blueprint.

The land is currently used to graze horses rescued by the H.A.C.K. Horse Sanctuary, and approval of its use as a camp could result in the charity needing to find a new home.

It also forms part of the green barrier and has a restrictive covenant imposed on it.

Community representatives said the area had originally been left out of the plan because of the amount of constraints, but was put back in by council officers at a later date.

Speaking at a meeting at Glyndwr University, Llay councillor Rob Walsh said the decision had caused ‘uproar’ in the village.

He said: “Gypsy and Traveller site selection is contentious. We all accept that and no matter what site had been selected there would have been some contention.

“I think what the public expected though was a site selection method which was fair and easy to follow.

“One of the reasons why there’s been such uproar about the Llay site is the fact it failed at stage two and was added later.

“It’s labelled as a country park and if you develop on there you set a dangerous precedent and you put other country parks in danger in the future.”

The hearing was told that other plots of land had been ruled out to host a camp because they were located in country parks, including space at the nearby Moss Valley Country Park.

Cllr Walsh accused the authority of failing to provide sufficient evidence to justify the inclusion of the Alyn Waters site.

In response, the council’s chief planning officer described the Llay plot as ‘unique’ as it is physically separated from the rest of the park.

Lawrence Isted said it was also not accessible to the public, despite some residents in attendance claiming it was a popular dog walking spot.

He said: “I accept that space can be valuable to society, but we have to balance that against the overriding need to provide Gypsy and Traveller accommodation, which is also valuable to that part of society.

“The council has previously given commitments that it will do everything in its power to allow H.A.C.K’s horses to graze on other land in the council’s ownership.

“We considered every site that we had in the site selection process, but those that were rejected because they were in a park, country park or school field are areas where they were actively used for those purposes.

“This land is incidental to the country park.”

The hearing later heard concerns from those living near two other proposed Gypsy and Traveller camps in Brymbo and Hanmer.

More than 3,500 responses were received from the public during a consultation into the LDP, of which around 1,400 were in objection to the three proposed Traveller sites.

Speaking earlier this week, lead planning inspector Siân Worden said she would consider all views received during the hearing process before suggesting any changes to the plan.