Homes plan for former council base to be approved

Plans to demolish a former council office block and build 31 homes in its place are set to be approved next week.

How the new development could look
How the new development could look

Shropshire Council’s southern planning committee is being asked to approve proposals to bulldoze Westgate in Bridgnorth, which was the headquarters of the district council until it was abolished in 2009.

Planning officers say that while the amount of properties proposed for the site represents a higher density than the developments around it – and less open space is provided than is normally required by planning policies – the development will help to address the town’s shortage of housing.

Under the plans, submitted earlier this year by Housing Plus Group, part of South Staffordshire Housing Association (SSHA), the scheme will include a mix of detached and semi-detached houses of between two and five bedrooms. Six of the properties will be affordable homes.

The two existing site entrances are to be closed off and the development will be accessed via a new turning off Wenlock Road, further away from the junction than the current access. Driveways to seven of the properties will have direct access onto Ludlow Road.

Bridgnorth Town Council raised concerns around traffic and road safety, the “inappropriate density” and the scheme’s environmental credentials.

Four members of the public objected to the proposals, while seven wrote in support of the plans and two made neutral comments.

A report to the planning committee by case officer Mike Davies says: “The site is situated within an existing settlement and the principle of the residential redevelopment of the site is acceptable in planning policy terms.

“The site is a previously developed site which is no longer in use.

“The development therefore has significant overheads in terms of site clearance on and therefore the developer has sought to maximise the density of development on the site having regard to the prevailing urban character of its surroundings.

“It is accepted that the development is more dense in character than its immediate surroundings however, it is considered that the proposed scheme incorporating some contemporary design details is unduly out of character in this respect.

“It should also be noted that housing delivery in Bridgnorth is significantly behind the levels envisaged in the development plan and this development will go some way towards boosting these figures.”

Recommending approval of the plans, Mr Davies adds: “The proposal provides affordable housing at the required rate and taking all other factors into account it is considered that on balance the proposals should be supported despite the open space deficiency on site.”

The planning committee will decide the application at its next meeting on Tuesday, October 20.

The Westgate building was the home of Bridgnorth District Council until Shropshire Council was formed in 2009, after which its use diminished and it eventually closed.

In 2015 Shropshire Council revealed its intentions to sell the building, leading to Bridgnorth Community Group bidding to have it listed as a community asset so that it could be retained for employment, recreation and community usage – but the application was rejected.

It was later hoped that West Mercia Police officers could use the building as a base following the closure of Bridgnorth Police Station in 2018, but that plan was dropped when it was decided to re-open the police station.

SSHA intended to buy both the Westgate council offices and the police station to build 41 homes, but the number has been reduced due to the police station no longer being included in the plans.

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