Hundreds at meeting over Shifnal future development

Hundreds of residents headed to a meeting to hear about a plan that could change future development of their town.

Hundreds at meeting over Shifnal future development

When completed and approved by residents, the Shifnal Neighbourhood Plan will have to be taken into account during planning applications.

It comes following an influx of planning applications to build more housing in and around Shifnal, which has been approved by Shropshire Council. For years residents have expressed their concerns over new developments and their impact on protected land, traffic, oversubscribed schools and health centres.

The meeting, hosted by the Shifnal Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, displayed the 24 proposals for the plan.

The first proposal focuses on the controversial issue of the latest approved housing developments, which according to steering group chairwoman Chris Raine will increase housing in the town by some 1,400 homes in the next five years. The proposal states that "no permanent development or redevelopment will be permitted with the exception of those sites already granted planning permission".

Several new sites for housing have been granted planning permission around the edges of Shifnal. Ms Raine said: "They will increase housing in the town by some 1,400 homes over the next five years and bring about a nearly 50 per cent increase in the population. This is the largest increase in size of town in all of Shropshire's 18 market towns. Understandably, residents are concerned that the existing roads and services will not be able to cope with this increase in traffic unless improvements are made."

However, not all residents were convinced. Peter Hassall said it was "far too late" to sort out the "chaotic state of the town's future".

He said: "Shropshire Council have already approved up to 1,600 new houses, bamboozled by developers' highly paid consultants who purport there are no problems with the present infrastructure of Shifnal to sustain their development. Shifnal does have the benefit of access to the motorway and rail network but does not have a by-pass and traffic still has to go through the town centre as it did in the Victorian era.

"Traffic struggles to get through, schools are full, doctor's appointments are difficult to get, bus services are chaotic. The whole planning system is broken and requires a lot of fixing."

The meeting last Friday, attracted more than 300 residents. People said that they thought it was important that the existing green belt around the town was protected.

Robert Harrop, Mayor of Shifnal said: "I am very pleased by the turnout to this event and the interest shown by those who came." He said getting the plan through all the remaining stages required "is of real importance for the town".

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