Clerical error opens up tiny Shropshire hamlet for new housing

A clerical error has lead to a tiny hamlet near Craven Arms being earmarked for potential development.

Seifton Lane, Seifton. Photo: Google
Seifton Lane, Seifton. Photo: Google

And this week a meeting was told that council planners cannot reverse the decision to name Seifton, between Diddlebury and Culmington, as a "community cluster".

Shropshire Council's southern planning Committee was told that Diddlebury Parish Council had only intended to make a small part of Seifton a community cluster.

However, most of Seifton is in Culmington Parish Council's area, where the councillors are dead against development in the open countryside.

Tuesday's meeting was told that the council's legal officers have been brought in to look at the issue.

But they cannot find any reference to regarding one part of Seifton as a community cluster and another as open countryside. The whole area is classified as a cluster in the local plan, which developers can use to justify lodging applications.

Seifton is identified as a component of a community cluster alongside Corfton, Bache Mill, Boulton, Broncroft, Middlehope, Peaton, (Great/Little) Sutton and Westhope.

The policy gives a guideline of around five additional dwellings, and no more than 10, in each of the settlements by 2026.

The issue came to a head at this week's planning meeting where a Mr and Mrs Pease applied to build one house to the north of Seifton Lane.

Stuart Clark, the couple's planning agent, said they would appeal if it was refused.

Heather Coonick, the clerk of Culmington Parish Council, said that "no one foresaw this anomaly" and said that Diddlebury Parish Council supported the view.

Shropshire councillor Cecilia Motley said Seifton is a "small settlement with no amenities" with medieval roots, and possibly event more ancient.

She said Culmington's opposition to open market housing was "not nimbyism" because it is not the type of housing that local young people can afford.

Councillor Motley said that while part of Diddlebury has been earmarked for housing, the issue has "caused consternation in Culmington parish".

She added: "It is not for one parish to determine another parish needs."

Planners told the committee that it was an "uncomfortable situation" but "we are where we are".

It is possible that the issue may be taken up by planning inspectors but officers recommended granting permission to Mr and Mrs Pease's application .

Councillor Claire Wild said making a decision now was "premature" because the inspectors of the new draft local plan had not made a decision.

"I feel really, really uncomfortable about this," she said.

"At the heart of all this has to be democracy. I feel very strongly that we should refuse this."

Councillor Richard Marshall said he too was "really uncomfortable".

"I can't support this application, we have got a duty to 95 per cent of the residents of Seifton in Culmington parish who want to keep the open countryside. We have got to wait before we make any decisions."

Councillors voted by 10 votes to reject the application despite being told that the applicants are "likely to appeal".

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