A MAJOR planning blueprint setting out where almost 8,000 new homes could be built in Wrexham has been thrown into turmoil.

The area’s Local Development Plan (LDP) is currently in the latter stages of being considered by the Planning Inspectorate.

However, whether it will be approved has been thrown into doubt after Wrexham Council leader Mark Pritchard’s independent group pulled their political support at the eleventh hour.

It follows inspectors raising “very serious concerns” over the way land for a Gypsy and Traveller site was allocated within Alyn Waters Country Park in Llay.

The area has been without a development plan since 2011, when its initial proposal was rejected by the Welsh Government.

The move by Cllr Pritchard’s group comes despite the majority of its members voting to support its submission.

In a statement, the leader of the ruling independent and Conservative coalition said: “At a meeting yesterday, the Independent Group discussed the recent letter from the LDP inspectors, dated 13 November 2020 regarding the re-run Gypsy and Traveller site assessment and selection process in general, and the proposed site allocation near Llay in particular.

“The letter expressed very serious reservations regarding the inclusion of a site which is in a country park and green wedge, particularly that its inclusion conflicts with national planning policy.

“The Independent Group on Wrexham County Borough Council has lost confidence in the process and unanimously decided that it will no longer support the LDP.”

The council previously attracted major criticism after the inspectors overseeing the LDP process identified a “serious failing” in the way it picked land for caravan sites in Llay, Brymbo and Hanmer.

Planning officers were forced to go back to the drawing board and reassess more than 400 possible locations in order to address their concerns.

However, while they chose to remove the Hanmer plot from the document, the land at Alyn Waters was kept in alongside a former sewerage works at Coed Y Felin Road, Brymbo.

The inspectors wrote to the authority again this week demanding answers over the country park’s inclusion.

In their letter, Sian Worden and Melissa Hall said: “In summary, we still have very serious reservations regarding the inclusion of a site which is in a country park and green wedge, particularly that its inclusion conflicts with national planning policy.

“We are not persuaded that the evidence currently points to this site representing the ‘last resort’ that national planning policy requires in respect of green wedge or that the impact on the recreational value of the country park and the associated well-being considerations have been properly assessed.

“There are clearly a number of errors and inconsistencies in the data and the latest evidence fails to provide us with the confidence we were hoping for in terms of the robustness of the re-run site selection process.

“The evidence fails to justify the case for the allocation of a site for gypsy and traveller accommodation which is in a country park and green wedge.

“We therefore wish to hold an exploratory meeting to discuss our concerns.

“We have not yet determined that the plan is unsound but would first wish to provide you with the opportunity to address the concerns we have in terms of the soundness of the site selection process which resulted in the allocation of a site in a country park and green wedge.”

It’s understood that opposition groups on the council had been considering submitting a motion calling for the LDP to be scrapped.

If the plan is declared unviable by the inspectors, it’s believed the Welsh Government could use ministerial powers to take over the process.

A meeting has been scheduled for December 7 to decide how it will move forward.