MAELOR FOODS has won permission to expand its Wrexham poultry processing facility after a long planning battle.

The firm first applied for permission to have a 400,000-bird/week limit lifted to a million/week at its site in December 2017 and had since had planning refused twice.

In late March planning inspector Hywel Wyn Jones heard the case in a hall packed with local residents concerned about the proposed expansion.

The site has been in industrial use since 1937, having been operated by Cadbury’s, Dairy Crest, First Milk and haulier Lloyd Fraser. Maelor Foods’ poultry processing first began in November 2017.

Local residents opposed the proposed expansion, citing traffic concerns, odour issues and early morning lorry movements as reasons for rejection.

In support, a number of farmers at the meeting suggested the expansion would be a boon for the local economy, both by increasing employment at the site and on surrounding farm businesses.

And a key factor at the hearing was the fact that Lloyd Fraser retained a Vehicle Operator’s Licence for its former site and expressed an interest in renting its old buildings back from Maelor if the expansion did not go ahead.

Mr Wyn Jones announced his decision to allow the expansion on 14 May.

In his report, he said that the proposed expansion “would cause harm to highway safety and the living conditions of local residents”.

But there was scope for the company to mitigate the extent of those harms and, furthermore, they were outweighed by the “considerable benefits of the scheme to the local economy when considered alongside the likely impact of the fall-back position of the Lloyd Fraser site”.

Mr Wyn Jones imposed a number of conditions on the expansion which included measures to improve a local junction, local amenities and HGV logistics. He also banned HGV movements either to or from the site on Sundays.

Costs were also awarded against the council, with Mr Wyn Jones saying: “I find that the council has failed to substantiate its reason for refusing the applications.

“Its actions were unreasonable and has caused the applicant to incur the unnecessary expense of pursuing the appeals. I conclude that a full award of costs is justified.”

A spokesman for Maelor Foods said the firm planned to begin work on the expansion as soon as possible.