Top-level talks in bid to safeguard Oswestry hillfort

Top-level talks will be held with a mix of groups next week in a bid to safeguard one of Shropshire's most important landmarks against housing development.

Land in the shadow of the hillfort at Oswestry, some of which could be developed for housing
Land in the shadow of the hillfort at Oswestry, some of which could be developed for housing

Nearly 6,000 people have already backed an online campaign opposing the plans to develop three parcels of land near the foot of Oswestry's Iron Age fort.

Oswestry Town Council has also spoken out against the plans, saying it will not back any proposals that would damage the archaeological or historical impact of the hillfort.

Talks will be held on Thursday between interested parties and campaign groups as part of Oswestry Town Council's own consultation on the controversial proposals.

Councillors have also arranged a visit to the fort and have invited representatives from various groups such as Shropshire Council, Oswestry Civic Society and English Heritage to take part.

Members of the Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort campaign who set up the online petition will also attend the talks.

The council agreed to arrange the talks and the visit after recognising the level of public interest in the controversy and to look at how greater public involvement could be brought into the issue.

At a meeting last month town mayor Chris Schofield outlined the town council's opposition to any proposal which will detract from the setting of the landmark.

Councillor Schofield said today the council's stance had not altered since that meeting and Thursday's meeting will explore the issue in more depth.

He said: "That is our position and it has not changed. There is concern about this and it will be explored at Thursday's meeting. We will have various bodies represented and council officers."

Councillors from Gobowen will also be taking part. Although the proposed homes would be in the parish of Oswestry Town Council, the hillfort itself falls within the parish of Selattyn and Gobowen.

Gobowen councillors have already added their voices to the increasing number of opponents to the plans. They said they would object to any plans which would impinge upon the setting of the fort.

John Waine, from the Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort group, said he hoped the event on Thursday would allow people to have a greater understanding of what is being proposed.

He said: "I would like to think it would mean councillors will take the advice of English Heritage who have said 'no' to this all along.

"There is a lot of public concern about this."

The proposals have been made under Shropshire Council's SAMDev plan to earmark preferred sites for new development.

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