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Shropshire being 'punished' with unwanted new housing - claim

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A senior councillor has said Shropshire is being punished with unwanted housing developments as it was revealed talks with planning minister Nick Boles left questions unanswered.

The claim came at a central town planning meeting in Shrewsbury last night, where Shropshire Council's housing cabinet member Mal Price admitted that councillors must continue to wait for a solution to controversial housing applications following a meeting with Mr Boles earlier this month.

A delegation of Shropshire politicians met with Mr Boles to call for changes in government policy allowing unwanted housing developments to be approved in the county.

MPs including Owen Paterson, Daniel Kawczynski and Philip Dunne, as well as Mr Price and specialist planning policy officer Dave Wallace, travelled to London for the meeting.

They were there to discuss the difficulties the county is having with the Government's National Planning Policy Framework.

Under the legislation, councils with not enough development land set aside for the next five years have to assess planning applications with a presumption in favour of "sustainable development" – even if sites being put forward have not been selected as areas for possible new housing by local communities.

Shropshire currently has a lack of five-year land supply, meaning council planning committees have been voting through housing development applications they are unhappy with for fear of being taken to appeal by developers, losing and making the local authority liable to pay costs.

Mr Price said that despite himself and authorities from other areas of the country putting their case forward, Mr Boles had left many questions "unanswered" as to how rural Shropshire could deal with unacceptable housing developments.

He said: "As you are all well aware because of the lack of a five year land supply we have been inundated with sites that we would not usually accept.

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"We have tried to object in every way we can, and we are being punished unfairly.

"We have tried to persuade Nick Boles that things need to change because we used to have the trust of the town council and parish council.

"Sadly I think we have lost that alongside all credibility because where do you stop with planning applications.

"There was no answer to our questions though, he is meant to be coming back to us."

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Councillors may have to wait until July before they see any real change, and Mr Price said far more housing applications had been put through under Site Allocations and Management of Development plan, known as SAMDev.

He said: 'We have put through 1,070 applications under SAMDev and I see that as a strong position.

"Those who deliver should not be punished, we are standing with our hands behind our backs and that is grossly unfair."

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