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Shropshire Council concedes on chicken sheds plan

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Shropshire Council has waved the white flag before a legal battle over chicken sheds in the countryside has even begun.

Campaigners taking the authority to court over a decision to permit plans to house 216,000 chickens near Clungunford say they were astonished to receive a letter from Shropshire Council's legal team saying they will not put up a fight.

About 300 residents, led by Clungunford Parish Council, raised thousands of pounds to fight planning permission for four 110 x 24 metre sheds, feeding bins and a biomass boiler at Hopton Heath. The unpopular plans were given the go-ahead by Shropshire Council's south planning committee in December.

Parish council chairman Jonathan Roberts said the proposals were "steam-rollered through" and would impact on people's homes, tourism and the area's rivers.

But now he says Shropshire Council had simply put up its hands and given in before the proceedings had even properly started.

He said: "I'm delighted they've finally seen the error of their ways. Finally someone's called a halt to it.

"But it will have to go before a judge so they can cancel it. I would hope that would be something of a formality.

"It just makes it all look rather odd as to what's going on in Shropshire Council's planning department."

He said the proceedings were still set to go ahead, however.

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"The applicant has a right to make a fuss, of course, but they've rather had the rug pulled from underneath them," he said.

"They'd be left on their own, trying to defend Shropshire Council's decision that they themselves have said is not worth defending.

"Unless something astonishing happens I can't see them winning."

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In the letter Claire Porter, head of legal and democratic services at Shropshire Council, said: "(Shropshire Council) acknowledges that there is some merit in some of the complaints raised and would not seek to defend any challenge brought by way of a judicial review to the decision. However, it is not open at this stage for (Shropshire Council) to quash the decision.

"(Shropshire Council) would instead invite (Clungunford Parish Council), if considered necessary, to commence judicial review proceedings, which would not be defended by (Shropshire Council) and in which (Shropshire Council) would consent to an order quashing the decision."

The letter says landowners, the Mann family at Heath Farm, were free to fight the judicial review, however.

Stuart Thomas, planning consultant at Berry's, acting as agents for the Mann family, said they would have to see what happened next and take advice, and could not comment further at this stage.

Mr Roberts added: "I hope we can have a discussion with the applicants to see if some of their objectives can be realised without impacting on local people.

"We have no desire to thwart their business ambitions.

"It is unfortunate that we have had to go down this route, but this is where we are at."

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