Appeal lodged after plans for derelict council HQ are refused

A developer has lodged an appeal after its plans to demolish a derelict council office block for housing were rejected.

The proposed development at Westgate
The proposed development at Westgate

Housing Plus Group had put forward proposals to knock down the former Bridgnorth District Council headquarters at Westgate and build 30 properties, but the scheme failed to win over Shropshire Council’s southern planning committee which refused permission earlier this year.

The housing association has now taken its case to the Planning Inspectorate in the hope of having the committee’s decision – which went against the advice of county planning officers – overturned.

Reasons for refusal given by the committee were that the development would have an unacceptable impact on road safety, and that the layout lacked cohesion and failed to reflect local context and character.

A hearing date has been set for next month, when Councillors Andy Boddington and Robert Tindall will be tasked with defending the committee’s refusal of the scheme to an inspector.

Councillor Boddington said: “The southern planning committee had no objection to redevelopment of the former Shropshire Council offices.

“We were happy for it to be used for housing. The problem lies in the proposed layout.

“Most of the green space is adjacent to the Wenlock Road, on a steep slope down to the road, not a useful or safe green space and certainly not an area for play.

“The small square green at the centre of the development is far too small and there will be no room to kick a ball around.”

Councillor Boddington said the road safety concerns centred on the seven properties proposed to have driveway access directly onto the busy Ludlow Road. particularly as these were proposed to have tandem parking.

"There will be too much traffic reversing onto the highway close to a junction. We should not be designing accidents into developments.”

The hearing is scheduled for November 25.

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 said it wanted 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 use – but the application was rejected.

Shropshire Council agreed the conditional sale of the site to South Staffordshire Housing Association (SSHA) in early 2020, to allow it to be developed for housing.

Housing Plus Group, part of the housing association, put forward proposals for 31 homes on the land, but revised the layout and removed one of the houses after the planning committee voted to defer a decision in October 2020, saying improvements needed to be made.

However when the plans went back before the committee in February 2021, members said they were still unimpressed and voted to refuse the application by six votes to one, with three abstentions.

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