Shropshire Star

New planning rules proposed to protect Ironbridge Gorge

A draft planning document which aims to further protect and conserve the Ironbridge Gorge Unesco World Heritage Site will be presented next week.

Ironbridge is part of the World Heritage Site

Telford & Wrekin Council and Shropshire Council will seek approval from their respective cabinets on the draft proposals to further protect the Gorge.

If approved, a six-week public consultation period will start early next year, where the public, including residents of the Ironbridge Gorge, will be encouraged to share their views.

The site is spread over 550 hectares, with approximately three quarters sitting within the administrative boundary of Telford & Wrekin Council, and roughly one quarter within the Shropshire Council administrative boundary.

Unesco awarded Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site status in 1986, in recognition of the area’s record of innovation during the Industrial Revolution.

Blists Hill Victorian Town

Councillor Richard Overton, Telford & Wrekin Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for housing, enforcement and transport, said: “Ironbridge is an internationally-recognised area of outstanding universal value, and one of seven designated conservation areas in the borough which we are extremely proud of.

“The World Heritage status has helped the area maintain a strong visitor economy for decades and promote the wider borough as a place to visit, live, work and invest – as well as securing investment into ground stabilisation works and conservation projects in the area.

“The council, residents and businesses are custodians of the World Heritage Site, and this document will ensure that the site is protected and that the history, conservation and sustainability of the area are top priorities for anyone wishing to bring forward a planning application.

“Through this guidance we want to underline the importance of Ironbridge in our borough and ensure it is protected for future generations in years to come.”

The document has been created to provide guidance and information to support the implementation of policies within the adopted and future Local Plans for both councils.

It also outlines how the site will be protected and managed, and includes preventative measures to avoid deterioration of its heritage value.

Sustainability and conservation are key features within the document, which also seeks to support sustainable development, including improvements to the energy efficiency of buildings, while recognising the need for the protection of the historic character of the World Heritage Site.

Richard Marshall, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for highways and regulatory services, said: “It is important the iconic Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site is conserved for present and future generations respectively.

"Both councils have endeavoured to ensure this document details the appropriate information and guidance the site undoubtedly deserves, and provides clarity on possible future developments which will conserve and protect its historical significance.”

Approval for consultation on the document will be sought at Shropshire Council’s cabinet meeting on Wednesday, December 14, and Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet meeting on Thursday, December 15.