Wales

Wrexham Henblas Square flats developer 'blackmail' claim

Henblas Square, Wrexham Image copyright Google
Image caption Henblas Square has been largely empty for several years

A plan to build 55 flats in a deserted shopping precinct is in doubt after councillors rejected a bid to slash the cash promised for affordable housing.

Permission for the scheme in Wrexham's Henblas Square was granted as long as the Mandale Group paid £300,000 to fund housing elsewhere in the county.

The developers now claim they would lose money unless the sum was cut to just under £29,000.

Labour councillor Graham Rogers claimed the authority was being "blackmailed".

The Mandale Group said it would make a profit of just over £250,000 if the changes were allowed, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

'Misled'

Plaid Cymru member Marc Jones, who represents the Grosvenor ward in which the apartments are proposed, said the authority had to "make a stand".

"I feel we've been misled into granting planning permission in the first place," he said.

A majority of councillors voted against the request, even though officers recommended they allow it.

They warned members that the firm would be likely to win an appeal to a Welsh Government planning inspector against such a decision.

Nevertheless, independent councillor Paul Pemberton told the meeting: "Whether we're been misled or lied to I don't know, but it's naughty.

"If the inspector rules a different way to what I'm going to vote for, then that's all well and good."

He was supported by Mr Rogers, who said: "I firmly believe as an individual that we've been blackmailed.

"The town definitely needs regeneration and we can't argue with that because Wrexham's in a mess.

"But I firmly believe that if we agree with what's being put forward it will come and bite us."

The development now faces an uncertain future with building work on the flats already well underway, but no longer having permission.

The Mandale Group has been asked whether it intends to appeal.

Council leader Mark Pritchard expressed his disappointment at the planning committee's decision, warning it could put off developers from working in Wrexham.

"We want to send a message out that Wrexham and the town is open for business," he said.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites