Homes plan for former Bridgnorth council offices is refused

Plans to demolish Bridgnorth's former council headquarters and build 30 houses in its place have been rejected.

The former Bridnorth District Council offices
The former Bridnorth District Council offices

Members of Shropshire Council’s southern planning committee said they remained unimpressed by the proposals for the former Bridgnorth District Council Westgate site, after deferring a decision on the scheme in October to allow the developers to make improvements.

The application was back before the committee on Tuesday, with an amended layout showing one house removed from the development creating a new central area of open space.

The seven properties fronting Ludlow Road had also been pushed back further into the site, but were still shown to have driveway access directly onto Ludlow Road.

Members said the minor alterations did not satisfy their concerns over road safety and a lack of coherence across the site as a whole.

An artist's impression of how the development could look.

In a statement read to the committee, Bridgnorth Town Council said it maintained its objection to the scheme.

The statement said: “The changes to the layout on the Ludlow Road frontage are minimal with no meaningful resolution to a potentially dangerous situation.”

A statement was also read out from the two unitary councillors for Bridgnorth West and Tasley, Elliott Lynch and Les Winwood.

They said they supported the application and welcomed the proposed green frontage along Wenlock Road.

A statement from Ian Gilbert on behalf of the applicant, Housing Plus Group, part of South Staffordshire Housing Association, said: “Despite viability being critical, we have reduced the site by one dwelling and introduced additional public open space in the central area.

Concerns

“The loss of a further dwelling and additional urban realm improvements have further challenged the viability of the scheme. Considering the site’s constraints, we believe this is the best design we can achieve.”

Committee members said the changes to the Ludlow Road houses presented the problem of tandem parking, which could lead to cars being manoeuvred dangerously or simply left on the road.

Planning officer Richard Fortune said the developer intended to use Grasscrete to allow vehicles to be manoeuvred without having to be moved one onto the road.

Concerns were also raised over the Wenlock Road access to the remaining 23 homes, which members said could be hazardous due to traffic speeds and its proximity to the Ludlow Road junction.

Councillor Cecilia Motley said: “I think all of us are aware of the fact that both Wenlock Road and Ludlow Road are becoming increasingly busy.

“It’s an important site because it’s really on the gateway into Bridgnorth, but I can’t see that this development can go ahead unless much more stringent arrangements are made for traffic control.”

There was criticism of the site layout, with members saying it would be preferable to see all houses facing inwards rather than having seven properties facing outwards and accessed separately.

Councillor Andy Boddington said: “We have several properties that look away from the development, so it doesn’t form a coherent community.

“Ordinarily in a site like this, you would have properties that gaze at each other and gaze at the common space in the middle, and that’s the sort of thing I think we need to see here.”

Proposing refusal of the application, Councillor Motley added: “I do think it’s important that this development, which in some aspects is a good development, should have the feeling that it’s one development – not smaller blocks of housing which bear no relationship to each other – and I think that’s what we are missing with this.

“For a site like this, which is a prime site in Bridgnorth, I think we need the highest standard of development and I don’t think we have that here.”

The committee voted to reject the application, against the recommendation of planning officers, by six votes to one, with three abstentions.

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