Council urged to save Shropshire Hills from development
A campaign group has urged Shropshire Council to use an upcoming consultation period to rethink housing plans in the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Beauty.
The authority’s Local Plan has recently been pushed back to allow for more consultation time.
The Save Snatchfield Group, created to prevent building on farmland in Church Stretton, has urged the council to create a separate plan for Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to protect the landscape from development.
The group want the council to use brownfield sites instead of areas in the AONB.
Graham Lewis from the Save Snatchfield group said: “We welcome this opportunity that now allows time for the council to explore much better alternatives that address housing need across the whole AONB including in Church Stretton.
“In an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty no housing site should be larger than 1.2 acres without first proving ‘exceptional circumstances’ and no such circumstances exist.
“But Shropshire’s Local Plan only includes large development sites greater than 1.2 acres and many of these sites are on greenbelt or AONB protected landscape.
"This contrasts very starkly with the approach taken by our Black Country neighbours. These councils operate a brownfield first policy.”
Snatchfield Farm, the site the group was initially created to campaign for, is an ancient meadow. The group said it has been earmarked as a 12-acre site for 70 homes.
The group noted a significant example of The Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the South Lakeland District Council, who jointly prepared a dedicated development plan document for the whole of their AONB.
The plan identified small, mainly brownfield sites for new housing.
Mr Lewis said: “The example of Arnside and Silverdale shows what can be achieved and it is this type of model that we are urging Shropshire Council to re-examine.
“The Arnside and Silverdale model delivered 50 per cent affordable housing, avoided harm to the AONB and had the overwhelming support of the public.
“There is no reason that we can think of to prevent Shropshire Council from following a similar pathway, in fact, we believe that it’s an obvious solution.”
Eddie West, interim planning policy and strategy manager with Shropshire Council, said: “We strongly encourage all campaign groups and others to use the upcoming consultation to express their views.
“The consultation will be supported by a full range of evidence, including an ‘exceptional circumstances’ case setting out why it is considered that the proposed level of growth and proposed site allocation in Church Stretton is an appropriate strategy for the town.”