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British Ironwork Centre in bid to solve plans issue over Oswestry HQ

Oswestry | News | Published:

Bosses at a Shropshire tourist attraction that has expanded without planning permission today pledged to find a solution.

British Ironworks managers say they have been talking to Shropshire Council for months.

The Ironworks, which is based on the A5 south of Oswestry, turned a warehouse into a showroom and constructed new toilets without the necessary permission.

But the owner of the complex says it was done quickly to accommodate a royal visit, when Prince Michael dropped in to the centre.

Since then, he says, he has been in detailed talks with planning officers from Shropshire Council about the future of the site.

Clive Knowles says a retrospective planning application will shortly be lodged with the council.

He said: "We would have moved heaven and high water to accommodate a royal visit."

Last week the British Ironworks unveiled its vision for the future, announcing plans for a garden of sculptures, based on the work of Capability Brown, whose 300th anniversary of birth is being celebrated this year.

This led to criticism by Shropshire Councillor, Duncan Kerr, that work that had already taken place did not have planning permission.

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"I want there to be a level playing field for everyone," he said.

Operations manger at the complex, Mr Ben Knowles said it was the company that had contacted Shropshire Council about its site and how it could move forward in the future.

"We knew that things had changed rapidly in a short space of time and we wanted to understand how we could move forward," he said.

"Last year we invited planning officers to the British Ironworks to tour the centre and to discuss our vision for the future.

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"Since they we have been drawing up the plans to submit to Shropshire Council."

The plans put forward a scheme to create Capability Brown style formal gardens when would lead to a natural wildlife area.

Mr Knowles said: "We know we are on a busy main road and the plans will include entrance and exit slip roads onto the A5, funded by ourselves. It is that link with the A5 that has led us to hold back until we have a chance to talk with the roads minister, who is visiting this part of Shropshire next month."

Clive Knowles, chairman of the centre, says that creating a new sculpture park for the region had been his long-held vision.

But he said the plan had been in limbo amid proposals for a power line linking wind farms in Mid Wales with the national grid.

At least one pylon would have been sited on the centre's land. But the plans have been dropped after a Government inspector refused permission for all but one of the wind farms following a year-long public inquiry.

"To celebrate the 300th anniversary of Capability Brown we have had the gardens designed in his style.

"Visitors will be able to wander through the trees and shrubs and enjoy the strategically placed sculptures.

"Because of the work to create the gardens and maintain them I hope that by next year we will be employing more than 100 people at British Ironworks. We currently have more than 60 staff."

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