Shropshire Star

Council defends Oakengates consultation as opponents lodge petition in advance of meeting

Telford & Wrekin Council has defended the way it has consulted the public over the multi-million pound Oakengates town centre revamp scheme.

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Limes Walk plan protestor Christine Orford and Pauline Jackson with a bundle of petition papers to present to the council..

Protestors last week handed in a petition to the council saying they have 1,138 people lining up against plans to redesign Oakengates town centre.

It was in advance of a planning committee meeting this Wednesday where the plans to replace shops and refurbish others in the Limes Walk area is due to be put to councillors.

Planning officials have recommended approval for the scheme.

Objector Christine Orford said: "We have over 2,000 people don’t want this compared to 200 people that the borough are going on."

A bone of contention has been over consultation but the council says it has run public engagement events in the town, written to people directly affected and has spoken with business owners on a one-to-one basis.

A spokesperson for Telford & Wrekin Council said: “We’re aware of the petition to save the shops in Oakengates and wanted to reiterate that as part of proposals to regenerate the town centre, all existing and affected businesses will be supported to stay and a significant number could benefit from newly refurbished units in an attractive place to shop and visit.

“As part of any regeneration scheme like this, people have the opportunity to share their views and we welcome these as part of the formal planning process.

"Having run a number of public engagement events in the town, written to people directly affected by the proposals and having spoken with business owners on a one-to-one basis, we’ve seen 18 people feel strongly enough to formally respond through the planning portal.

"These comments will be carefully considered by the planning committee.

“Alongside the formal planning process, we continue to use our high street fund to attract new businesses to Oakengates and retain existing ones.

"We are also supporting free parking on all council owned car parks, all with the aim of boosting footfall into Oakengates and transforming the 1960s shopping precinct into modern retail units with a welcoming offer for residents, shoppers and visitors alike.

“We continue to work with the government who are funding the bulk of the works, the town council, councillors, The Oakengates Chamber of Trade and all businesses affected to ensure that Oakengates is a place where business can thrive.”