Shropshire Council agrees fresh consultation on controversial developments

Shropshire Council's cabinet has backed its local plan, including a series of controversial development sites – but has agreed to fresh consultation in response to pressure over the proposals.

Shropshire Council's cabinet agreed to a fresh consultation on its local plan
Shropshire Council's cabinet agreed to a fresh consultation on its local plan

The draft local plan sets out locations for 30,800 homes in towns and villages across the county, to be built up until 2038.

Since the proposals were confirmed earlier this month there has been an outcry over plans for Bridgnorth, with council officers switching a recommendation for a garden village on green belt land at Stanmore, to one at Tasley instead.

There has also been concern over sites at Shifnal, Church Stretton, Much Wenlock, Shrewsbury, Whitchurch and Oswestry.

As expected councillors also agreed to consult on the version of the plan that does not to proceed with plans for a 3,000 home development on green belt north of Junction 3 of the M54 and west of Tong.

The cabinet agreed to a fresh eight-week consultation period – termed 'regulation 18' consultation – where people can give their views on all the sites included in the plan.

It is a considerable switch with the council originally planning a consultation that would have only looked at the process of the plan and its 'soundness'.

Councillor Robert Macey, the cabinet's portfolio holder for housing and strategic planning, said: "Having considered these issues carefully we should respond positively as a council and this would provide a useful stage to allow people a chance to give a view on different plans before the council establishes a view on soundness."

No date has been set for the consultation to start but council leader, Councillor Peter Nutting, said he expected it to be for a couple of months and to conclude at the end of September.

Councillor Nutting said the fresh two-month consultation would give people a chance to raise whatever concerns they had about development sites.

He said: "You can feed in whatever you like to that consultation, it is not so much about the process, it is about various sites, so that will give you an opportunity to speak to officers and feed in to officers."

A number of Bridgnorth councillors raised concerns about the Tasley plan during the council's cabinet meeting, with some saying Stanmore should have been chosen instead of the new site.

Councillor Michael Wood, who represents Worfield, said the whole scale of development proposed for Bridgnorth needed to be revisited.

Speaking to cabinet portfolio holder for planning, Councillor Rob Macey, he said: "Can Rob confirm for me that not only will we be taking a look at the Tasley recommendation but we could also be looking at the overall number of recommended dwellings in Bridgnorth – whether it be in Stanmore with 850 or Taylor Wimpey with 1,050, we still have to consider the Hickman proposals from the previous Samdev plan on the site of the cattle market which is another 500.

"I am making the suggestion I would like it to be broad enough to look at those numbers."

Councillor Wood said that he believed the scale of development planned for the town is "a huge number that will have the effect of changing the whole of Bridgnorth over the 20 years, making it unrecognisable from what it is today."

Councillor Les Winwood, who represents Bridgnorth West and Tasley, said: "The Tasley site is considered a stage too far for our residents."

He raised concerns over the highways impact of the development on the town, and said he was concerned it could threaten plans for the relocation of the town's livestock market.

Councillor David Turner also spoke to cabinet and said he was unhappy that the local plan had opted for considerably more homes than proposed in Much Wenlock's local plan, while Councillors Paul Milner and Dean Carroll, raised concerns over Oswestry and Shrewsbury sites respectively.

The decision over the consultation means that a special council meeting will be required in January, or the start of February to approve the draft plan for submission to the government.

As part of confirming the consultation the council did confirm its support for plans at major sites such as housing at the former Ironbridge Power Station and Tern Hill Barracks, as well as removing land from the green belt around RAF Cosford to allow for expansion of the site.

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