Planning policy change could bring benefits

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Owners of land in and around villages and towns in Shropshire, excluding the Telford and Wrekin area, will, in the next 12 months, see an important evolution in planning policy for building new houses, writes Shaun Jones.

While the broad development principles of the Core Strategy were adopted in February 2011, the important policy influencing development in villages and hamlets has not yet been adopted. A planning application for a house at Fauls, near Whitchurch, was refused last week because the SAMDev (Site Allocations and Management of Development) Policy has not yet been adopted.

Numerous small settlements, such as Aston on Clun, Priest Weston, Longden Common, Wentnor, Dobson Green, near Whixall, and Bicton, near Shrewsbury, have had a presumption against new open market housing for several years. These settlements are all proposed as community clusters and, assuming they are all adopted as clusters in 2014, planning consents should be achievable, subject to normal criteria, providing significant benefit for landowners.

On the other hand, potential has slipped away in places like Clive, Ford and Westbury because they have not put themselves forward as hubs or clusters. Some useful former local council policies encouraged development in villages with sufficient facilities, e.g. Halfway House. However, this has changed due to a previous policy being replaced.

Don't worry though. The SAMDev process has left the door open for communities to be considered as a hub or cluster in the future. My advice to landowners is to monitor your potential, promote your land and submit an application before the goalposts move.

When the hubs and clusters have been adopted it will be important to submit applications quickly before allocations get swallowed up by competing sites.

A well presented application with appropriate consideration of flooding, access, ecology and drainage issues, maximises the chance of success.

Shaun Jones is rural director at Halls, Welsh Bridge Office, Shrewsbury

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