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Second attempt to replace historic Bridgnorth building fails

By Tom Oakley | Bridgnorth | News | Published:

A second attempt to replace one of Bridgnorth's most historic buildings with retirement flats has failed after proposals were refused.

Controversial plans for 55 homes on the site of the former William Williams builders merchant at Innage Lane were originally turned down – prompting an appeal against Shropshire Council's decision.

Now, the second application for 49 flats – which was submitted as an "alternative option" to the appeal by developer Churchill Retirement Living in June – has been refused by the local authority.

But the future of the historic site remains in the balance with the original application still subject of an appeal – yet to be decided after the final hearing in October.

It comes after Innage Lea was significantly damaged during an arson attack late last year.

The plans would see 19th century Innage Lea and its related historic buildings demolished to make way for a the apartments, lodge manager's accommodation, communal facilities and car parking.

David Cooper

On half of Bridgnorth Civic Society, which has consistently opposed the development, town councillor David Cooper, said: “We’ve argued consistently that it would be inappropriate to demolish the period buildings on the site and lose part of Bridgnorth’s heritage.

"It would be much better to carry out a sympathetic restoration and put the buildings back into use as part of any redevelopment of the site. We also felt that both retirement schemes were inappropriate for the location.

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"Shropshire Council have again confirmed that their preferred approach would be to retain the existing historical buildings, and we hope that the site’s owners will make this central to any further proposals they put forward.”

Three teenagers were sentenced this month for causing the £100,000 worth of damage following the fire.

In a 'Decision Notice' document, development manager Ian Kilby said the application had been refused because: "The development introduces an unacceptable level of harm to the amenity and privacy of users of Bridgnorth Hospital and occupiers of the development itself.

"The cumulative benefits of existing trees and vegetation on the site contribute to the character and amenity of the area.

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He adds: "The applicant is unwilling to provide on site affordable housing or make an off-site contribution by way of an overage review."

Developers have previously said the development would "help meet the urgent need for more housing for older people in the Bridgnorth area.”

After the application was submitted, developers said that while they remained confident of winning their appeal for the original 55-flat scheme, they were confident that the appeal against Shropshire Council’s decision to refuse the initial application for will be won.

Tom Oakley

By Tom Oakley
Trainee Multi-Media Journalist

Express & Star reporter responsible for covering Walsall and Staffordshire. Got a story? Email tom.oakley@expressandstar.co.uk or call 01902 319482.

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