Call to protect Telford greenfield sites from housing
Large housing developments on greenfield land in Telford should be a "very, very last resort", parish councillors have told planning chiefs.
A masterplan for up to 18,500 homes in Telford & Wrekin is being developed by the borough council in response to government demands for more new housing.
More than 11,000 homes already have planning permission and a new development plan, Shaping Places, has identified a potential 80 sites on which up to another 8,000 could be built.
Hadley & Leegomery parish councillors broadly welcomed the plan when borough planners attended their meeting last night – but the councillors were adamant that the green spaces should be protected as far as possible.
Council chairman Councillor John Smart highlighted Waters Upton as an area for concern, as Shaping Places proposes 200 new homes in a village of just 84 homes.
He said: "I think overall the policy is good – except for the rural developments.
"You are under pressure, but I think you have to go back and listen to the comments and redraw it."
Michael Barker, Telford & Wrekin Council's head of planning, said only six per cent of the development in the plan was in rural areas. He said the plan was still in development stage and urged the councillors to make their views and suggestions known now.
He said: "What we are looking at is what we believe is appropriate – if you don't agree with that it's important to say so now."
He said a lot of the development planned for the rural area was actually on brownfield land – the creamery site at Crudgington and the former sugar beet factory at Allscott – and that no public open space was earmarked for development.
He said the plan aimed to give people a choice of living in either the rural or urban areas by providing a choice of housing.
Councillor Pat Smart said: "Hadley used to be a village. You are saying people should be given a choice whether to live in an urban or rural area – we were in a village and we didn't have a choice about local development.
"We need to understand that we have to have agricultural land, we have to feed ourselves. The minute you start laying foundations on fields they are lost, that decision is irreversible.
"I am very, very disturbed that we are just merging into an urban sprawl.
"Building on a field that might otherwise be used for food should be a very, very last resort."
Councillor Ron Plenderleith said there was a certain amount of apathy in the town because people felt that their opinions would not be listened to.
Mr Barker said the council had no choice but to identify housing land, and that councils which had failed to include enough homes in their plans had had them rejected by government.
But he said all comments would be considered. He said: "We have to get it right. Have we put too much in? We are open to listen to what people have to say."
Consultation on the Shaping Places plan continues until June 17.
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