Warning as fresh plans lodged for for Oswestry's British Ironwork Centre
The refusal of planning permission for the British Ironwork Centre tourist attraction near Oswestry would lead to its closure, a planning consultant has said.
Details of a retrospective planning application to Shropshire Council for the centre - home of the nationally known Knife Angel Sculpture - have been released.
Company bosses say that there are no new buildings proposed as part of the application.
A previous application, which included future aspirations for the site, off the A5, was withdrawn after two years of talks.
The current application is for the extension and alterations to existing lawful buildings to include improvements to an existing access and change of use of land to formalise the sculpture park on part of the land.
A report to the council says that for the avoidance of doubt there are no new buildings proposed as part of the application.
Planning consultant Simon Thomas said the site concerned has been lawfully home to Black Country Metal Works Ltd and the British Ironwork Centre since about 2005.
"This family business founded in 1986 has been built by three family generations, all of which are still involved, dedicated to heritage and the art of metalworking and in recent years, nationally recognised projects and campaigns," he said.
He says that in 2009 planning permission was granted on the site for the change of use of traditional farm buildings to office and business suite, plus use of the portal framed buildings for storage of trade only ironmongery, plus mail distribution, plus alterations to office space.
The current application includes the use of buildings as a retail showroom and cafe and the provision of new toilets within an existing building.
"Since 2005 the British Ironwork Centre has invested about £6 million in its facilities and has an exceptionally unique and broad tourism and rural offering," said Mr Thomas.
The report says that the centre employs 80 staff plus additional seasonal, event and remote homeworking staff. It has an annual payroll figure exceeding £1 million and is the largest tourism employer in Oswestry.
"Regularisation of the British Ironwork Centre is essential in securing the existing employment positions. Failure to grant planning permission would be inarguably fatal," it said.
Mr Thomas says that the British Ironwork Centre’s financial contribution into the local economy runs into millions of pounds each year through suppliers ranging from raw materials, consumables, food and beverage and professional services.
"Wherever possible the centre favours its policy of procurement through local business. The centre is a patron to approximately 140 other local companies," he added.
The planning document sets out the wide range of events that take place at the British Ironwork Centre including charity fundraising and nationwide campaigns including Save a Life, Surrender Your Knife.