Planners slated after over-ruling Kronospan plan

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Border Counties)

PLANNING chiefs have been slated for  overruling a decision on a Chirk factory expansion.
 
Councillor Terry Evans was on the Wrexham Council planning committee which refused permission for a new melamine facing press at the Kronospan factory last year.
 
But the Planning Inspectorate for Wales has upheld Kronospan’s appeal against the decision.
 
 “Judging by the decision, any planning applications may as well be dealt with in Cardiff because we’ve got no say,” Cllr Evans said, adding:  “Whatever we say as local members is overturned in Cardiff.” 
 
Wrexham Council refused permission on the grounds of noise, odours, dust and traffic.
 
The Advertizer told earlier this year how Kronospan had pushed on with plans for the extension, despite being refused planning permission.
 
In her decision notice, planning inspector Kay Sheffield said: “While I do not dispute the claims made by local residents regarding the industrial complex as a whole, several of the issues raised are controlled by separate legislation.
 
Notwithstanding this, I have no substantive evidence the proposed development would cause problems in respect of air quality, dust, odour or traffic.” 
 
The issue of noise could be controlled by conditions, she added.
 
But Cllr Evans, who represents Chirk South, said the extension would increase the issues. 
 
“The issue of dust in Chirk has been horrendous, as has the noise, and streets have been blocked with traffic on a regular basis,” he added.
 
Wrexham Council turned the application down on the grounds it would have a negative impact on the landscape as well as the character and setting of the World Heritage Site at Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and that the development would impact on Chirk Castle, particularly the park and gardens.
 
The melamine facing of MDF/particle board is currently undertaken within a series of process buildings and warehouses at the site.
 
To facilitate the development, Kronospan says it will be necessary to demolish and relocate  hydraulic oil and diesel storage tanks, a vehicle filling station, garage service building and  associated infrastructure  located in the footprint of the proposed  extension.
 
Melamine faced board has been produced on the Chirk  site since the start of operations in 1973. The firm says the product is essential to the viability of the plant and represents almost 60 per cent of the total £230-plus million turnover of the UK business.
 
Bosses claim the existing production equipment is dated and inefficient, and the process flow does not help achieve good productivity.
 
In a statement the company says: “We are pleased that the Planning Inspector has granted permission for the building which houses the new melamine facing press.
 
“The inspector confirms that the view of the site will not be altered as a result of the development and that the building is assimilated into its surroundings. 
 
“Kronospan is committed to the long-term improvement of the site here in Chirk, renewing our facilities with the most advanced technology available while also securing local jobs.
 
“Our community responsibility is at the forefront of our decisions and we will continue to ensure that we work together for the benefit of all.”
The appeal proposal represents a capital investment of £20 million.

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