Homes get go-ahead despite Shropshire level crossing safety fears
Plans for 50 homes close to a problem level crossing in Shropshire have been given the go-ahead despite major safety fears.
Members of Shropshire Council's north planning committee approved the plans for 50 homes on a site between Aston Road and Church Lane in Wem.
Residents and councillors had raised concerns that the area will not be able to accommodate extra traffic, that the development is "out of place" and could increase the risk of flooding.
Councillor Len Staines, vice chair of Wem Rural Parish Council, said at the meeting at Shirehall, Shrewsbury, on Tuesday that the homes could cause major traffic problems.
He said: "The traffic from the houses will have to travel down narrow roads already struggling with the volume of traffic.
"Some of the condition of the roads is also not good enough. It is a step towards the loss of a rural environment."
The original application was for 75 homes, but during consultation it was reduced to 50 and the access onto Church Lane was removed.
Amy Hanson, agent for the application, said Wem was a sustainable town with "excellent" transport links and facilities.
She said: "The application has offered to financially contribute to traffic management around the railway crossing and ensure the vehicle speeds are kept to 30mph in the area.
"The homes will not overwhelm Wem and will have economic benefits."
A total of 102 letters of objection and a 78-signature petition were received by Shropshire Council over the application.
Network Rail also objected amid fears that, with more people using the crossing, it could increase the number of accidents.
However, the company removed its objection and suggested that should the application go-ahead, the applicant would need to part fund a footbridge at Wem station.
Pauline Dee, Shropshire councillor for Wem, said: "I have had a mass of people contacting me in regards to this.
"I just find it confusing that Network Rail would put in an objection and were concerned about safety and now they have gone back on what they said to us.
"It is dreadful there as the level crossing barriers can go down for as long as two hours sometimes. The cars shoot through prematurely as they are fed up waiting. We have been told a footbridge would cost about £1 million so that is pie in the sky.
"It is beyond a joke how much traffic goes through the town and this will only make it worse.
"It is too premature to build these homes – the safety issues of the level crossing need to be sorted first."
Chris Mellings, Shropshire councillor for Wem, added: "There is no support for this from the community. The health centre is under pressure and the primary school is full. Children are being turned away."
Councillor Paul Wynn, member for Prees, said: "I feel Wem is very sustainable and with the position of where we are in needing more homes in Shropshire, I feel we have to go with the recommendation to approve the plans."
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