An appeal has been lodged following plans for a new raw board store at wood-based panel manufacturer Kronospan being refused.

Last year, Wrexham Council’s planning committee turned down permission for the Chirk-based firm’s application to build the new store, citing fears over visual impact.

The committee heard concerns the county could lose its World Heritage Site at Pontcysyllte Aqueduct if the development went ahead, while 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.

Now the firm has submitted an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate in a bid to get the decision overturned.

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 operations spreading outwards and away from the existing concentration of tall structures.

According to an appeal document, Kronospan bosses say assessments undertaken by technical advisors showed a reduction in the visual impact from the original proposals.

And no objections were raised by Cadw or the Canal and River Trust, which manages the World Heritage Site.

The appeal form states: “The Appeal Proposal forms part of Kronospan Vision 2020, a capital investment programme with a total cost of £200 million.

“Kronospan Vision 2020 involves delivery of new buildings and improved raw material handling facilities.

“It will also provide significant investment in new manufacturing equipment and the reorganisation of product flow within the existing buildings to improve the efficiency of the manufacturing process.”

It continues: “Kronospan Vision 2020 will deliver environmental improvements at the site and ensure the long term viability of the business by improving the manufacturing efficiently and productivity.

“Investment programmes such as this are critical to enable manufacturing businesses to succeed in the UK.

“The improvements proposed will help maintain Kronospan’s status as UK’s leading manufacturer of high quality wood-based panels and thereby help secure the manufacturing plant in Chirk, an important local and regional employment generator.”  The document concludes: “The application was refused permission contrary to the advice of Cadw and NRW (in respect of effects on the AONB) and without due consideration of the expert evidence and photomontages provided in the planning application.

“It is the appellant’s case that Wrexham Council did not make its decision on the basis of the planning facts before them.

“Instead the decision was heavily influenced by consultees who appear to have not paid due consideration to the submitted documents.

“Accordingly, the reason for refusal stated in the decision notice cannot be sustained.”

The statement continues: “Previous recent decisions taken by the council in respect of other developments at the Kronospan site are considered material to the appellant’s case.

“These decisions include permission for developments significantly larger in scale and more prominent than the appeal proposal.

“This discrepancy supports the case that the reason for refusal stated in the decision notice cannot be sustained.”

In 2016, Wrexham Council planning committee refused permission for an application to install a new melamine facing press at the Kronospan factory.

But last year the Planning Inspectorate for Wales upheld the firm’s appeal against the decision, meaning permission was granted.

Interested parties must submit representations to the Planning Inspectorate by February 15, with final comments from Kronospan and Wrexham Council due by March 1.

A decision on whether to allow or deny the appeal will then be made by a Planning Inspectorate officer based on the written representations received.