Failures of Wrexham CBC Highways Dept.

Background To This Article

Background: Many documents have been provided to the WCBC Highways Officer highlighting concerns and evidence to support the objections that this section of footway on Holt Road cannot be built out to avoid discrimination against persons with disabilities and protected characteristics.

It is incredible that a Highways Officer having been advised by the Equality Commission of the WCBC Potential breach of the Equality Act on two occasions and more latterly receiving a copy of Castle Green Agents Critical Road Safety Audit that he recommends breaching WCBC Policy GDP1(d), the Manual for Streets and the Equality Act 2010.

All this in addition to the issues regarding access to areas outside the Applicant’s red line plan over which he has no jurisdiction to recommend or approve. Despite its many failings the Officer has given approval for this defective footway.

This article refers to the Reserved Matters Planning Applications P/2021/0110 & P/2021/0111 for Residential Development of Two Parcels of Land Located North & South of Lane Farm Rossett Road Rossett Wrexham LL12 0DS. Outline Planning permission was given on appeal to P/2018/0560. There are 16 Conditions (Reserved Matters) placed on this planning permission by the Welsh Government Inspector and the Minister.

Unbelievable Recommendation

Subsequent to our previous article on the Defective Pedestrian Footway we now note that the WCBC Highways Officer has submitted his approval in the Memorandum ET/DC/MM/P/2021/0111 dated the 9th July 2021 and recommended the Discharge of Conditions 8, 9, 10 and 14 which is displayed on the planning portal under P/2021/0110 and P/2021/0111. His earlier memo of the 14th May 2021 is also displayed on the portal.

Below………. Typical Traffic on Holt Road

Additional Safety Risks

As far as the footway proposals south of Holt Road are concerned, these fail to meet the required standards of WCBC Policy GDP1(d) or the mandatory Standards of the Manual for Streets. Failure to meet the required standards contravenes the Outline Planning Approval Granted by the WG Minister. WCBC has already been warned by the Equality Commission of its Duty of Care under the Equality Act 2010 on the grounds of discrimination against persons with protected characteristics.

The recent disclosure by the Applicant of a Road Safety Audit commissioned by Edison entitled “Proposed Highways Works, Rossett Road, Wrexham Stage 1/2 – Road safety Audit May 2021” (copy on planning portal) shows that the footway proposals are considered unsatisfactory on several aspects and are predicted to create additional accident risks to the users of the planned footway south of Holt Road. This failure to meet the required mandatory standards and to produce a safe scheme to comply with UDP Policies means that Conditions 8.3 and 9.3 must not be discharged.

At the Wrexham LDP examination (hearing statement, Matter 6) Savills presented an independent report by Travis Baker on an assessment of Rossett Road Safety, they concluded – “Based on information currently available, it is clear that the proposals will increase safety concerns by introducing further sub-standard design features for the pedestrian route and an objection should be maintained on grounds of pedestrian safety. It is our view that a number of critical matters relating to the site access remain outside of the landowner’s control, and therefore planning permission should not be granted unless the local authority can be certain these issues are capable of being resolved.” We now know that these issues are still far from being resolved.

No Access to Privately Owned Land

Condition 9.2 relating to the Southern site cannot be arbitrarily discharged as the requirement to provide a footpath link to Trevalyn Way cannot be achieved. The layout provided by Castle Green Homes does not accord with the Determined Plan Access point as two footway links are shown not one as indicated in the approved location, and neither access is in the right place.

In addition, the land adjacent to the Castle Green Development boundary is privately owned and under the control of the Rossett Community Council and the local residents on Trevalyn Way. No right of access will be allowed across this privately owned and controlled land all of which is outside the boundary of the determined red line plan so that a scheme showing access to Trevalyn Way cannot be delivered or approved by the Planning Case Officer, as it would be ultra vires (beyond one’s legal power or authority).

Footway Links and Cycleways Not Deliverable

On the Northern Parcel site the footway link shown outside No 1 Trevalyn Hall View cannot be arbitrarily agreed as the portion of land over which the link is shown is not in the ownership of the Developer such that Condition 8.2 cannot be discharged. Inquiries of the WCBC Housing and Assets Department have indicated that no consent has been given by WCBC to the entry points shown into Trevalyn Hall View, and Darland View.

In addition, no consent has been given by the private residents of these two Estates to the imposition of cycleways through their estates and furthermore WCBC have not legally reserved any rights for third parties such as Castle Green Homes to construct footways and cycleways so that condition 8.2 cannot be discharged.

Travel Plans Not Current

Referring to the Travel Plan Condition 14 this cannot be discharged as the layout plans do not accord with the determined plans and the proposals regarding cycleways and footway links cannot be delivered so that recommendation to discharge the Travel Plan is certainly premature. In the event that the layout plans are changed to accord with the Determined Plans on the Planning Consent, then the Page 2 of 3 Travel Plans will require amendment to accord with the access limitations onto privately owned or WCBC owned land.

The Travel Plans being offered by Castle Green Homes rely upon the accesses and footways being deliverable and providing connectivity to the existing housing Estates on Trevalyn Hall View and Darland View, with access being available through Trevalyn Way to Harwoods Lane and absolute reliance on the footway south of Holt Road being altered.

Since the last objection sent to WCBC regarding this developments footways and accesses, we have heard from the Equality Commission Legal Officer that they are currently looking into the issues we have raised and have requested copies of any further information updates we have. The Equality Commission (EC) do not reveal the confidential details of their work but we hope that WCBC start to take notice of the earlier representations made by (EC) on the risks associated with the potential breach of WCBC Duty of Care under the Equality Act 2010 to persons with protected characteristics.

The discharge of the Travel Plan Condition 14, with the layout and scale uncertainties still unresolved, should not be contemplated until all access and footway links are resolved. Similarly, the Construction Method Statement Requirements cannot be discharged until the layout of properties has been determined as there may need to be considerable amendment to the text of the same.

Non-Compliance with Mandatory Standards

Correspondence has been sent to the WCBC Highways Officer in which we detailed our concerns regarding the unsafe footway on the South of Holt Road, together with the guidance received from WG Ministers staff regarding the flexibility to be afforded to designers but the overall requirement to comply with mandatory standards.

It is inconceivable that a Highways Officer who comments that the footway scheme “is not in line with best practice” can actually go on record authorising the discharge of a condition that he knows to be wrong, offending both local and national policies. We are so concerned about the safety issues that the Highways Officer is recommending to flout, we can advise that in the event that the Planning Case Officer decides the matter without placing this whole matter before the Planning Committee for their consideration we will look to instigate a Judicial Review into the way the case has been decided. Our Barrister has advised that the actions taken to date by the Highways Officer have provided adequate grounds for a Judicial Review on their own notwithstanding the contested Reserved Matters decisions or discharge of Conditions being planned by the Case Officer on layout, scale, flooding and access.

Road Safety Audit

Paragraph 1.11 of the Road Safety Audit of May 2021 states that the road safety audit team have reported “only on the road safety implications of the scheme as presented and has not examined or verified the compliance of the design to any other criteria,” At 1.12 they indicate that “they understand that there are no departures from standard within the design of the scheme” which does not accord with the truth or with the observations of the Highways Officer who acknowledges this footway is “not in line with best practice“.

The Road Safety Audit confirms the fact that this footway is likely to increase the risk of vehicular/pedestrian collisions particularly with persons having protected characteristics, and the response from Edison’s (formerly Croft) as Designer is stating that the WCBC have agreed to this as the only justification of this safety risk.

Parking Provision – Double Standards

The Highways Officer Memoranda Ref ET/DC/MM/P/2021/0110 dated 14th May 2021 and 9th July 2021 gives arbitrary acceptance of the Parking Standards. It has already been shown under a separate objection that the parking provisions on the proposed Castle Green Development are some 73 spaces short (20%) when compared with WCBC LPG16.

The Highways Officer has dual standards being applied in Rossett. Recently on another development in Rossett the Highways Officer Memorandum Ref ET/DC/PP/P/2021/0487 comments “Parking & Turning Provision” “I would recommend that parking provision at the site complies with LPGN 16 maximum requirements”. Here we have an application for 3 dwellings and the maximum requirements of LPG16 are being enforced whereas for 132 dwellings where there is an evident shortfall in parking provision associated with limitations flagged up by the swept path analysis and other turning matters that the standards are being blatantly ignored.

It would appear that there is one set of rules being applied by the Highways Officer to a small development and another lax set being applied to a large land owner/developer. This disparity therefore gives rise to the further objection that WCBC new development parking standards are not being properly or fairly applied in order just to favour this large developer’s unsatisfactory estate plans and deficient vehicle parking provisions.

Summary of Failures

The site layouts do not accord with the approved access plan referred to in Condition 5 of the Minister’s Consent of the 14th February 2020 and numbered Pinc-100-37-SMPA-01 and accordingly there should be no discharge of any conditions until a scheme which does accord with the Consent obtained has been provided.

It is inconceivable that any Highways Officer or Planning Officer acting within his professional duties would agree to the discharge of conditions which he has been told and shown offends the Law and good practice particularly where that Officer knows that this development is opposed by the Community affected, in this case Rossett.

For conditions 8, 9 and 10 which the Highways Officer has indicated that “he is content ….may be discharged” they all require that “Development shall not commence ……until a scheme detailing the following has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority”

It has been shown in correspondence that the Highways Officer has ignored salient points and warnings from the Equalities Commission which have been ratified by Edison’s Road Safety Audit.

The stated width of the footway on the southern side of Holt Road referred to in paragraph 8.3 and 9.3 and embodied in the Statement of Common Ground signed by Officers after the refusal of the planning permission by the Planning Committee of the 7th January 2019 is not capable of delivery.

To consent to reserved matters or to discharge any conditions in such circumstances shows a blatant disregard for the Law and for this Community, when there are so many errors in the same and where necessary third-party consents have not been obtained.

The actions of the Highways Officer, to date, now provide sufficient evidence to seek a Judicial Review of the whole application should unrestricted approval be given to this development. The whole matter pursuant to P/2018/0560 should be refused under the Planning Case Officers delegated powers or failing that the whole application both Reserved Matters and Discharge of Conditions should be placed before the Planning Committee for determination.

We place this here as Wrexham Council hide all objection documents from the public, which means no residents can see what other residents are objecting about and how many objections that are being presented, also there is no means to check that your objection has actually been read and placed on file.

Failures of Betts Hydro Flood Assessment

Background To This Article

The Rossett Focus Group and local residents have continuing concerns regarding the Castle Green Homes Development in Rossett. We are alarmed by the proposals to raise site levels and to introduce bunds around the existing site. This article has been produced as a result of the multiple concerns being expressed by local residents who live adjacent to both parcels of land and their general view is that Betts Hydro have totally failed to understand how and whence the Rossett flooding emanates. There is great concern that flooding to local properties will be drastically increased by Betts proposals, and the down-stream flooding already being experienced in Darland & Lavister will be made much worse by the  plan to export flood exceedance into the Darland School ditch. We have been in direct contact with Betts Hydro regarding historical information and they have paid as much heed to our communication as they have paid to NRW’s comments on the FCA (Flood Consequences Assessment) and Hydraulic modelling.

The current FCA is Betts Hydro fifth attempt at producing a solution to the flooding issues for Castle Green Homes. Bellis Brothers the former owners of the land previously commissioned Waterco back in 2018 to produce an FCA, but following their infiltration tests on the fields they clearly failed to provide a suitable SuDs solution.

This article refers to the Reserved Matters Planning Applications P/2021/0110 & P/2021/0111 for Residential Development of Two Parcels of Land Located North & South of Lane Farm Rossett Road Rossett Wrexham LL12 0DS. Outline Planning permission was given on appeal to P/2018/0560. There are 16 Conditions (Reserved Matters) placed on this planning permission by the Welsh Government Inspector and the Minister.

Increased Flooding Risk

The proposal to increase the topographic levels adjacent to the properties in Moss Green, Trevalyn Way, Trevalyn Hall View and Darland View will result in flooding to those properties if the Flood Flow Route is that predicted in Figure 5 (see below) of Betts Hydro FCA (see Hydraulic Modelling Assessment – Appendix I) . The existing topographic level of a property in Trevalyn Way is 13.09mAOD. The Castle Green site level is to be raised at a point running alongside this property and the other properties in Moss Green to at least 13.50mAOD.

At present should the River Alyn flood from the direction being suggested by Betts, the flood water can flow in the locations as suggested in Betts Hydro Figure 5 below but if the topographic (site) level is raised by the levels recommended by Betts the Bungalows in Trevalyn Way and Moss Green will be flooded, e.g., a typical Trevalyn Way bungalow has a Finished Floor Level of 13.24mAOD and can expect internal flooding to a depth of 260mm before the Castle Green raised site levels experience any flooding runoff from the predicted direction.

In addition to the bungalows referred to above, there will be a greater risk of flooding to the lower even number properties in Trevalyn Way and those odd numbered properties back towards Eaton Close as the topographic levels of the gardens are lower than the increased site levels being proposed by Betts Hydro. This worsening of the flood risk situation on the properties adjacent to the Southern Parcel of Land is completely unacceptable and contravenes the provisions of TAN15 Section 8.3 by potentially worsening the existing situation. 

Hydraulic Modelling Assessment (Appendix I) – Figure 5

Hydraulic Modelling Failures

It is quite clear from even the limited hydraulic modelling work undertaken by Betts that the whole area from the proposed development site back to the Alyn Road Bridge B5445 is at risk from flooding. The modelling undertaken by Betts does not include any constraint of the River Dee flood waters on the River Alyn upstream of Cooks Bridge. In the last two major flooding events 1976 and 2000 the River Dee was at an extremely high level resulting in flooding of Trevalyn Meadows from Almere to a considerable distance above Cooks Bridge towards Trevalyn.

In addition, no recognition has been given in the Hydraulic Modelling to the influence of the River Dee on the flood direction from the Farm Track south of the Development Site into Harwoods Lane. In the last major river flooding event in Nov 2000 the runoff from the development site was from the southern parcel of land into Trevalyn Way and Moss Green. In the January 2021 storm event the runoff was from the northern parcel of land into Trevalyn Hall View and Darland View with flooding experienced all around Darland View with actual internal flooding to a property in Darland View. 

Betts Hydro Appendix D gives rise to question the adequacy or reliability of any of the Hydraulic Modelling and the scenarios put forward in support of the Castle Green Development Plans. Not one of the suggested scenarios listed in Appendix D reconciles with the EA Evidence Photograph No 6 (see copy below) presented to the UDP Inquiry in 2002. In the EA photograph the River Alyn flooding quite clearly enters Alyn Drive Rossett from the adjacent land not from Station Road & Alyn Road Bridge with a known flood line in the photograph of 14.53m AOD by the far lamp column on the right. 

EA Evidence Photo 6

The photograph above depicts the real event of flooding mid-afternoon on the 6th November 2000. The modelling proffered by Betts Hydro supposedly includes climate change but the predicted flood water levels do not reach, in any scenario, the flood levels recorded in this 2000 photograph which was entered as EA evidence to the UDP Inquiry.

River Dee and River Alyn Combined Effects

The hydraulic modelling  has not included any blockage at Cooks Bridge (Hydraulic modelling node Alr02d). History has shown that with the River Dee breaking its banks and flooding Trevalyn Meadows the flood levels of the Dee and the Alyn have combined at a point up stream of Cooks Bridge. This fact was confirmed at the 2002 UDP Inquiry by Mr David Goodson the EA Officer responsible for this stretch of River Alyn at that time. At no point does the FCA recognise the NRW Development Advice Map which shows the C2 floodplain actually abutting the southern parcel boundary in Harwoods Lane. 

In view of the modelling failing to reach the areas depicted above which were flooded in 2000 no reliance can be placed on any of the flooding predictions made by Betts Hydro in their FCA or in their modelling Appendices.

In view of the perceived inadequacies of the hydraulic modelling it is considered that the FCA does not properly inform the flood risks being presented by the Castle Green Development and must result in the proposed drainage strategy failing to satisfy the Discharge of Condition 7 of the Outline Planning Consent granted by the Welsh Minister.  

Unsubstantiated Assumptions

In the base data a steady state River Flow has been assumed in the modelling  above and below Cooks Bridge but this is far from the case as the flood water levels of the River Dee on Trevalyn Meadows have under extreme flooding, impeded any steady state outfall conditions on that stretch of River and places further doubts as to the Hydraulic Modelling suitability or accuracy. There have been so many unsubstantiated assumptions in the base data of the hydraulic modelling between Pont-y-Capel and Cooks Bridge that its conclusions on flood risk appear meaningless as they continue to defy comparison with reality.

This omission to carry out risk assessment of any blockages at Cooks Bridge is a failure to accord with the provisions of TAN15(2004) Paragraph A1.17.17 and should require further hydraulic modelling to be undertaken using the known flood outlines in Alyn Drive and Harwoods Lane as an absolute minimum. 

Earthwork Bunds Presents More Risk

The proposals to build earthwork bunds to protect the Northern Parcel of land will place existing properties adjacent to the development site at further risk of flooding as well as some of the new proposed adjacent terraced houses. The imposition of  bunds to the NW and E boundaries as shown in Betts Figure 5 above together with the raising of site levels along the remainder of the NW boundary will effectively create a bund with the inherent problems of restricting surface water flow on or off the site as presently occurs.

The whole essence of Betts Hydro proposal appears to be to raise the site levels above the present ground water levels to facilitate some form of SUDs ground infiltration. It is noted that the earlier infiltration tests undertaken by Waterco have been repeated in part and again there are substantial areas of the site that will not support infiltration drainage.

Sustainable Drainage (SuDs)

In paragraph 5.6.3 of Betts FCA reference is made to encountering of groundwater during infiltration testing and has the remarks that “Should groundwater be encountered during any future construction phase(s) then suitable land drainage will need to be installed to intercept groundwater flows”.  The suggested provision of suitable land drainage is unlikely to prove successful as the  southern parcel of land apparently has a system of land drainage in the areas of poor test infiltration but this has not prevented the flooding pictured during recent major storm events.

The FCA fails to acknowledge the existence of an Aquifer on the site and the required SPZ1 protection required. Proposals to raise the ground levels to artificially high levels to create some degree of infiltration should be rejected as this process is totally in contravention of WCBC Policy EC12 and EC13 and the provisions of TAN15(2004) Paragraph A1.17.13.

Landscape and Layout Errors

At no time has it been acknowledged by Betts Hydro or Castle Green Homes that the LVIA (Landscape and Visual Appraisal) produced by Ark Company Landscape Architects for Bellis Brothers, that was approved on appeal (Document APP76), limits the ridge height of all dwellings on the new development to 7.30m above topographic level to ridge.

The whole suite of houses and flats are indicated on average to be well above 8.40m from FFL (Finished Floor Level) to ridge thus the proposals to raise a number of properties by over 1.50m will compound the problem further.  The average increase in site level to FFL is 660mm, in addition to impeding flood water flow it will create a situation of significant overshadowing and overlooking when compared to the approved LVIA of 7.30m to ridge.  

The plans being used by Betts Hydro obviously follow closely those created by Castle Green Homes but the plans do not accord with the determined access plans approved by the Inspector and Welsh Minister, and the housing layout should be amended to accord with those plans and should result in a revision of the drainage layout and possible re-siting of infiltration ponds into other areas. This failure to accord with the determined plans has been communicated to the Planning Case Officer and the Developers.

History of Flooding

The Betts Hydro proposals continue to extol the virtues of discharging any exceedance from both parts of the development site into the distant ditch in the grounds of Darland High School. The existing ditch has a history of flooding to substantial areas of Darland and Lavister and the proposal to discharge exceedance from 132 dwellings into an existing flood risk area is totally unsatisfactory.

The proposal to construct simple earthwork bunds in an attempt to stem the exceedance flow or flooding to neighbouring properties is also unacceptable. The outline planning consent was given following claims by the speculator’s agent that the community claims of flooding were mischievous and that no risks from flooding existed; the recent FCA by Betts Hydro has failed to uphold these claims, it acknowledges that the development is at risk of flooding and has proposed unreasonable site level changes in mitigation bearing in mind the inadequate modelling indicated above.

Suitable SuDs Scheme Not Forthcoming

The Speculator was advised by WCBC Flood Officer prior to appeal that failure to provide a suitable SUDs scheme may result in the proposed development being changed or reduced to meet SAB requirements. To date no suitable SUDs scheme has been tabled by Betts for Castle Green Homes and the planning consent is conditional on an approved SUDs scheme. Local residents have always contended that the development site is not sustainable or deliverable on drainage & flooding grounds but this has always been dismissed by the Speculators Agent.

To date nothing that Betts Hydro has produced has altered local perceptions and evidence that the development site results in runoff flooding to the surrounding area and will if built out make the situation worse. Under the circumstances it would not be appropriate to discharge Conditions or Reserved Matters as a suitable SUDs scheme has not been approved or proposals demonstrated that long term flood risks have been properly addressed.

Flooding Evidence Ignored

In the FCA it is clear that inadequate research was undertaken regarding the flooding incidents in Rossett since 1976 leading to wrong assumptions on where and when pluvial & fluvial flooding occurs. Had a proper internet search been undertaken by this company the Rossett Focus Group (RFG) website would have shown the level of flooding that has been evident over the last 45 years.

There have been two major flood events in 1976 and 2000 with a number of lesser but important river flooding events in the 1980s, 1990s and 2020s. A video link to the 2000 event is and was provided on the website. Examination of the flooding photo gallery should have alerted the company to the inherent flood risks in the area. Any close examination of the photographs show that the company have continued with a dismissive attitude towards pluvial and fluvial flood risks and have deliberately cropped Development Advice Maps to conceal directions of flood risk or have deliberately underplayed the flooding that occurred during the January 2021 storms as evidenced by Appendix G compared with the photographic details displayed on the RFG website.

Summary of Failures

In conclusion, the aspects and comments on the FCA and drainage strategy documents have considerable discrepancies between the text and the graphical content, diagrams or figures.

The proposals do not alleviate local concerns that the flooding risks both on and off site have been properly or adequately addressed.

The overall proposal to regrade the site from Harwoods Lane down to Darland View is both unacceptable and irresponsible as it will place existing residents at greater risk of flooding, it will impede natural water flows to and from the land.

The wisdom and permanency of earth bunds to impede or to attempt to contain exceedance in both the short and longer term must be questioned as there can be no guarantee in the proposals that existing properties will not be flooded along with a number of the new houses.

The issue of the lifetime expectancy of the earth bunds and how these can be guaranteed to survive intact for the anticipated lifetime of some 80 years for the development must be considered along with the issues of climate change.

Hydraulic modelling has always included a number of assumptions regarding inflow rates, run-off  and flow between gauging points etc. but this set of modelling parameters has more unknowns than knowns and downstream estimates are all guesswork as there is no downstream monitoring below the Alyn Road Bridge or the Castle Green Development site.

Confidence that the FCA properly informs on the flooding risks to the Castle Green Development site(s) has not been demonstrated by the latest version and that the Drainage Strategy built upon a deficient FCA should be rejected.

With all the above unsatisfactory issues the Betts Hydro FCA and Drainage Strategy fails to satisfy both the national and local policies on flood risk and SUDs and will result in increased flooding risks in the surrounding areas.

We place this here as Wrexham Council hide all objection documents from the public, which means no residents can see what other residents are objecting about and how many objections that are being presented, also there is no means to check that your objection has actually been read and placed on file.