Campaigners hit back over "devastating" housing plan claims
Campaigners have hit back over claims from a leading planning official about proposals for hundreds of new houses, saying they are "outraged" at plans that would "devastate our countryside".
The Save Bridgnorth Greenbelt Group (SBGG) was speaking after Shropshire Council planning officer Adrian Cooper said that it is vital for the county's towns to expand to avoid falling into decline.
The comments come after a Shropshire Council consultation on its preferred sites for development closed. The preferred sites policy sets out areas of the county where houses and businesses can be developed up until 2036.
The proposals for Bridgnorth include hundreds of homes and a large business site in a 'garden village' on land at Stanmore.
SBGG said that so far the council has shown "no justification" for the development, and that it is yet to see evidence of the "exceptional circumstances" required to release a large section of greenbelt land for future development.
The group has also questioned suggestions that businesses in Bridgnorth have been calling for more development in the town.
Group chairwoman, Sheila Edwards said: “It’s interesting that now he’s under pressure Mr Cooper tries to pull a rabbit out of the hat – local business. It is deplorable that Mr Cooper feels he can make comments which could affect local businesses, with a long track record of commitment and investment in this town, somehow implying they are threatening to relocate if we do not tear up our countryside. We’ve been talking to local businesses, many business people are amongst our supporters, and we haven’t found firms saying this."
Mrs Edwards said the scale of development would have a huge impact on the town's facilities.
She said: "This proposal is for a whole new town that will devastate our countryside and overwhelm the infrastructure of Bridgnorth – doctors, hospital, schools, traffic, parking. Mr Cooper can give no guarantees on infrastructure and our local councillor has made it plain that community infrastructure levy only comes after houses are built – and as Shifnal and Broseley show, it’s not always spent where the houses are built."
The council proposals are part of a plan to build 28,000 homes across the county up until 2036.
The plans for Shifnal have also been the focus of considerable local opposition. They include 1,500 new houses, a bypass from the Wolverhampton Road to the Priorslee Road, and up to 40 hectares of employment land.