Countryside campaigners challenge council over proposed green belt land loss

Countryside campaigners are calling for less of the county's green belt land to be swallowed up for development.

CPRE adviser Charles Green
CPRE adviser Charles Green

CPRE members in the county are challenging Shropshire Council to justify their figures after raising doubts over 116.3 hectares of land identified in the fast-developing Local Plan Review.

In particular the eagle-eyed document readers have raised questions about the Shifnal area where they say 92.8 hectares are planned to be released.

CPRE Shropshire's planning adviser Charles Green said: "There seems to be particular doubt as to how Shifnal’s employment land guideline figure of 41 hectares has been arrived at, and therefore whether it is justified.

"Because of the doubts about the quantum of the proposed releases from the green belt, the figures should be re-examined."

The campaigners are focusing on how the council has justified releasing so much land. CPRE Shropshire is the county branch of the national charity, the Countryside Charity.

They not satisfied that it supports the level of land requested or the exceptional circumstances required as part of their interpretation of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Mr Green said: "There seems to be exceptional circumstances only if the stance is taken that development should occur wherever there is pressure for it, rather than taking the stance that the Green Belt is there for its original purposes, which include a check on urban sprawl and to assist urban regeneration.

A spokesperson for Shropshire Council said: "The Examination in Public of the Local Plan will begin on July 5. One of the areas for examination by the inspectors will be greenbelt release and the views of the CPRE will be taken into account.

"CPRE, along with other organisations, individuals and us as the council, have submitted Matters Statements to the inform the upcoming hearing sessions in July, and these will be available on our website by the end of this week, along with an updated timetable for the sessions."

Sessions are set to be held at the Sovereign Suite, at Shrewsbury Town Football Club with hearings due to start at 9.30am on each day.

Whitehall planning inspectors Louise Crosby, Carole Dillon and Nick Palmer have been assigned to hear from scores of people and councils.

Issues of the green belt are due to be considered on July 13.

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