Parish council deemed 'ludicrious' for agreeing plan based on 'silent majority'

A parish council has been branded "ludicrous" for assuming more than 400 villagers who didn't respond to a housing survey want hundreds of homes built on their doorstep.

The proposed sites for new housing in Cressage. Picture: Shropshire Council
The proposed sites for new housing in Cressage. Picture: Shropshire Council

It comes after around 300 people opposed developments in Cressage and Cross Houses as part of the Local Plan.

Under the proposed plan, both areas would change status from Open Countryside to Community Hubs, making it easier for housing developers to build in the area. Many villagers are opposed, and feel the area doesn't have the infrastructure and amenities for up to 160 new homes.

In an extraordinary meeting of Cressage and Sheinton Parish Council the evening before the Local Plan consultation deadline, a question was raised by a member of the public who gave his name as Liam G. He asked why the parish council recommended the change of status.

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In response, Councillor Ian Lawrence said a separate survey was sent out. Councillor Lawrence said: "There were 550 questionnaires sent out. Only 70 were returned. We looked through the 70 and about 40 opposed it. We speak to a lot of villagers all of the time. It seemed there was support so we continued. Obviously there was a silent majority. The majority of the 70 opposed it, but you have to remember the context of the 550 questionnaires that were sent out."

Liam replied: "You feel there is a consensus based on silence. That is ludicrous in my opinion."

The council was also accused of recommending the plans despite not fully knowing where homes will be built.

At the beginning of the meeting, Shropshire councillor Claire Wild explained the points system and why the area was recommended to change status. She also insisted that a planning inspector will study the plan and people's concerns, and decided if the change of status is the best move.

She said that if the Local Plan is not approved it could open the door for independent developers to buy up land and build on it in the area, though one member of the public insisted that any plans submitted will be subject to the usual rigours, and that residents would have their chance to have their say on it.

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