Developer defends consulting throughout coronavirus pandemic on Shifnal housing plans

Developers behind plans for new homes in Shifnal have defended the need to consult on proposals throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Nurton Developments has moved to show the importance of Shropshire Council's consultation on its local plan review, which campaign group Shifnal Matters said should be postponed until next year due to difficulties caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

It comes as the property management company plans on running its own consultation on a new project at Upton Lane called Monument Park Garden Village.

The council's local plan for Shifnal includes space for a new bypass, an employment site of at least 16 hectares of land and a further 1,500 homes for the town, with green belt land being set aside for some of the development.

Nurton development partner, Ian Willicombe, said: “It is not an ideal time to stage a public consultation for a strategic development but we, like the council, have our hands tied.

"The council has to bring forward a draft local plan to its agreed timetable and we have to feed into that."

Nurton aims to deliver Monument Park in phases up until 2038 and is capable of accommodating up to 700-800 homes.

Mr Willicombe added: “Without such a plan, developers could submit planning applications for housing sites throughout the council area and there would be no policy in place to direct them to the best sites for sustainable and economic growth.

“Thus, it is imperative that the draft local plan process continues as per the council’s publicised timetable to prevent unwanted speculative development. We have been trying to engage with local stakeholders but have faced a stone wall which is very disappointing. One of the key elements of the government’s Localism Act is that developers should try to engage constructively with local stakeholders and communities.

“We have a strategic vision for Monument Park and genuinely would like to get feedback from the community on what facilities could also be included and how it can integrate with the existing urban infrastructure. Nothing is fixed yet and community input is a critical part of the process.

“All development is going through a radical shake-up due to the pandemic with changing work and living patterns. We are looking at making Monument Park Garden Village a sustainable and landscape-led development to meet the needs of generations to come so it is essential that communities appreciate they have a vital role to play in this change.”

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