Posted: Wed 21st Oct 2020

Controversial plans to sell off land near Denbigh school for housing approved by council leader

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Oct 21st, 2020

Denbighshire council’s leader has approved the controversial sale of former agricultural land next to a school to break a deadlocked cabinet.

Hugh Evans had the casting vote on the sale of the near seven acre site next to Ysgol Pendref in Denbigh, which had been “called in” by local councillors.

The Cabinet originally rubber-stamped the idea on September 22 but it was called back for review by Denbigh Upper/Henllan councillor Glenn Swingler, supported by four colleagues.

A scrutiny committee sided with him and proposed holding off the sale for 12 months, to see whether new Welsh legislation being discussed would change the requirements on affordable housing.

It forced cabinet to revisit the idea and see whether the arguments had persuaded them to change their plans.
Cllr Swingler and Cllr Rhys Thomas had argued 20 homes from the site, which could accommodate around 100 new builds, was not enough to satisfy local demand.

Cabinet member for finance Julian Thompson-Hill said the money raised, more than £1m, would go into the housing revenue account and boost the coffers for affordable housing provision.

However Cllr Thomas (Denbigh Lower ward) said, with more than 430 houses already earmarked for the area and many unaffordable to local people, Denbighshire council should wait.

He said: “Using developers to provide affordable homes is a strategy that’s failed.

“(At North Wales Hospital ) they fully intend to develop the site over 10 years but they will do it in stages.

“Everything seems to be going very well and here we are planning to sell land for 100 houses, to be built in the same area at the same time.”

Cllr Thomas said Local Development Plan projections of a need to build 3,700 homes in the county were incorrect.

He said: “We have to take away the houses that have been built in the last three years and those that are planned to be built and we get down to a figure of 1,000.”

He said Denbigh had 434 houses already in the pipeline and, with another 100 from this land, half of the conty’s demand would be met in one town.

He added: Maybe with a new national plan in the offing in 12 months we will know what the plan is.

“We could wait 12 months to make sure we fit in with the national plan.

“I think we will be in a far surer place to make sure we’re not making a mistake.

“This (land) has been in the LDP since 2013, so why are we selling it now?”.

Officer Graham Boase pointed out that a bill addressing new developments and affordable housing had not concluded its path through the Senedd and guidance said the proposals “must not be used as a source of policy”.

The call-in was defeated after the cabinet was tied at four votes each and Cllr Hugh Evans said he had to side with officer recommendations to dispose of the site and approved the sale.

By Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter

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