BATTLE lines have once again been drawn after a five year fight by developers to transform land into housing.

A planning inquiry into a proposal by Penrhyn Homes to build 133 homes [being advertised on the company’s website as 136] on Mindale Farm in Meliden will open in November; the homes have been rejected, dismissed by appeal, revised and rejected again in the past.

However, ex councillor and former mayor Bob Paterson, of the Mindale Opposition Group, believes that the upcoming inquiry - being held virtually - will be ‘unfair’ and will restrict residents’ voices from being fully heard.

He said that most people in the village are not “internet savvy” or do not have access to internet.

“I was totally disgusted that the inspectors are trying to get this inquiry held in November, and even more amazed to see that they wanted this to be a virtual inquiry,” he added.

“It was something not publicised. I only found out when checking the status of this appeal.

“When the previous hearing was held in the village far more people attended than was expected and a number of them do not use internet.

“We feel that the only people to benefit from this inquiry being held so soon are the developers and landowners.

“I have always believed in democratic-al decisions that are made in a public and open way, if this were to go through after a virtual public inquiry I feel that this belief would exist no more.”

The housing saga into the controversial estate began in 2016. An application by Penrhyn Homes was turned down in 2017 and was dismissed on appeal.

Campaigner Bob Paterson at the Mindale site

Campaigner Bob Paterson at the Mindale site

A fresh bid was later submitted by Penrhyn homes but was again turned down in 2019.

The planning inquiry is set for November 23.

Dr James Davies, MP for Vale of Clwyd, who has met with Mr Paterson , said: “The Planning Inspectorate intends to hold a public inquiry into this proposed development, following an appeal by the applicant against its refusal by the council for a second time.

“The current suggestion is that the inquiry should be held virtually, on November 23. There is great concern that a virtual inquiry would not allow the community to effectively and fairly raise its concerns. I agree that this would be a real risk and I have written to the Planning Inspectorate and the council, accordingly.

“With physical meetings now returning, I believe that it ought to be possible to make arrangements for a face-to-face inquiry in November, failing which it would be acceptable to postpone the event until early next year.”

The Welsh Government said it takes “every measure” to ensure that virtual events do not “prohibit” the involvement of any party who holds an interest in any case.

All parties with an interest in the appeal have the opportunity to submit their written representations within four weeks from the start date.

A spokesperson said: “The appeal is being processed by the Planning Inspectorate Wales, we cannot comment on a particular case, as to do so may prejudice any future decision made in relation to it.

"If any individual feels they are disadvantaged by virtual events, they should contact the Inspectorate directly.”

A spokesperson for Denbighshire County Council said: “The Planning Inspectorate has confirmed there are no plans to hold any in person planning inquiries until 2022.

“We are aware this may prejudice the local population who may not have sufficient IT capabilities or equipment, but we shall support them where we can.”

Concerns voiced by Mr Paterson were put to Penrhyn Homes and the fact that Dr Davies had written to the Planning Inspectorate and the council

A spokesperson from Penrhyn Homes said: “In response to the concerns of the virtual inquiry we are led by the planning inspectorate of Wales who has control of the appeal.

“In response to the concerns raised we cannot respond to Dr James Davies comments due to the lack of detail.”

More details were provided to Penrhyn Homes but a further response was not received.

Mr Paterson is also angry the company is advertising Parc Melyn on their website.

He said: “They are advertising under a heading saying ‘available now’. Further on, they tell you that a development of 136 properties coming soon. The application is for 133.

“It would be of great advantage to them for this inquiry to go ahead. What faith should we have in the experts who advise Penrhyn when they can’t even quote the correct number of properties they have applied to build?”

Gareth Davies, MS for Vale of Clwyd, has also met with Mr Paterson.

He will also be making “the appropriate communication” to the Welsh Government in regards to how the meeting is to be conducted.