Shropshire Star

Plan to turn quarry near the Wrekin into outdoor activity centre with roundhouses set to progress

Controversial plans for a disused quarry to be turned into an outdoor activity centre have finally been given the green light.

How the approved outdoor activity centre in Little Wenlock will look. Photo: Telford & Wrekin Council planning portal

Agreed plans for the Maddocks Hill and Quarry site in Little Wenlock include three Iron Age roundhouses and a "multi-purpose activity structure".

Proposals also include five camping pods and warden’s accommodation.

Despite the plans attracting considerable objection – including from Little Wenlock Parish Council – proposals were approved by the Telford & Wrekin Council’s planning committee in March.

A Freedom of Information request in October found that the plans were being delayed due to a Section 106 legal agreement not being in place.

The agreement is now in place and the plans formally approved, subject to conditions.

“The aim is to establish a top tier educational fieldwork facility to operate as a hub for outdoor education, fieldwork and research,” said applicant Andy Moir of Tree-Ring Services in the planning documents.

“The owner/operator (Dr Moir) is a well published academic, associated with Brunel University and with links to many geography and archaeology departments in universities.

“Fieldwork is a compulsory component of many graduate and post-graduate courses taught at Birmingham, Warwick, Coventry, Wolverhampton and Harper Adams Universities, which are all within our catchment area.”

In their updated business plan the applicant said that there is ‘no intention’ to run non-educational activities such as weekend camping and the site would be restricted to educational use only.

The applicant says that residential courses would be limited to students in higher education.

The eco-pods will accommodate 20 people for overnight stays with space for a further 18 people not staying on-site.

During the first consultation phases 42 letters were sent to the council objecting to the scheme and 11 supporting the proposals.

A council planning officer addressed the planning committee in March and said that although the development was part of the Wrekin Strategic Landscape the site would be ‘controlled through conditions’ and there were no technical objections or grounds to refuse the application.

A separate tank for drinking water would be required and the existing footpath would be modified to become a bridleway.

“In relation to safety of the base of the slopes, a slope stability appraisal report had been undertaken, with recommendations for fences to protect the area from falling debris and this be conditions to be inspected every six months,” said the planning officer.

“An enhanced ecological plan would be required detailing the lighting in order that it did not impact bat migration.

“Control of the occupants on site would form part of the Section 106 agreement but the management of the site and its opening times was an operational choice and not a planning consideration.”