Shropshire Star

Owen Paterson MP to write to council and Government over Oswestry hillfort home plans

North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson is to write to Shropshire Council and the Government over plans to build homes in the shadow of Shropshire's Iron Age hillfort.


But the MP will not be writing for or against the inclusion of the Oswestry site in Shropshire's development blueprint.

Instead Mr Paterson will simply inform both the council and Communities Secretary Greg Clark of local concerns over plans for 117 homes following a meeting with members of The Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort (HOOOH) group.

Mr Paterson said he was happy to write to the minister on behalf of his constituents but he would not be getting involved in any other way.

He said: "They came to my surgery and asked me to write the letters.

"People often ask if I can write on their behalf. Usually it's only to Shropshire Council, but they wanted me to write to Greg Clark as well.

"But I never take sides on planning matters. I haven't the whole time I've been in office and my predecessor never did either."

The Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort (HOOOH) group met Mr Paterson to talk about their concerns over the controversial site for 117 houses, listed as OSW004 in the list of proposed housing sites for the next decade, known as SAMDev.

Campaigner and archaeologist Dr George Nash said: "We had a very constructive discussion with Mr Paterson, impressing on him that this is an issue not just of local but of national interest.

"Mr Paterson agreed to write to Shropshire Council about our contentions that inclusion of OSW004 in SAMDev has not complied with due process or planning guidelines, and our belief that the council has misunderstood national planning policy.

"He said he will also be writing to Communities Secretary, Greg Clark, over the issues that the inclusion of OSW004 raises, given the hillfort's scheduled status, regarding the interpretation of the National Planning Policy Framework."

The site, off Whittington Road, has been included in the planning inspector's list despite objections from the Oswestry group at a public hearing last December.

Earlier drafts of SAMDev included land within 85m of the hillfort at Jasmine Gardens and Oldport Farm, but this was taken off the list in the latest draft.

Campaign advisor and heritage planning expert Tim Malim said: "The site promoter has never submitted a justification for OSW004 as a standalone development - it has only ever been put forward as part of a coordinated scheme with the other sites.

"If the council's decision to allocate housing in the setting of a heritage asset as significant as Old Oswestry is implemented, then it sets a dangerous precedent for protected monuments across the country which the NPPF is meant to safeguard."

The inspector's modified plans are out for consultation until July 13.

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