Bid to keep woodland open to community backed by town council

A bid for an area of woodland and open space to be listed as an asset of community value has been backed by town councillors after plans were revealed for 90 houses.

Market Drayton
Market Drayton

Market Drayton Town Council unanimously voted to support an application for the piece of land between Tern Valley Business Park and existing homes in Sherwood Crescent to be granted the designation.

The application for inclusion in Shropshire Council’s list of assets of community value (ACVc) has been made after the landowner, the Healey Estate, unveiled proposals to build what will be known as the Longford Turning development on the site.

As part of the determination process, the town council was asked by Shropshire Council to answer four questions – whether the land is currently used by the community, when use ceased if not, how long it has been used for, and for what activities and how often.

Councillor David Minnery said: “Looking at the map of the area that’s proposed I accept that the land at the top is probably about 30 years, because those of us who have been around a while will remember that that was left empty as a buffer when permission was given to build Mullers.

“It was enshrined in a planning condition when the business park was extended in about 2007 or 2008.

“Of course the application area goes down into the valley, and that area down there has been in use by the public for at least 60 years or more.

“I moved away from that part of town when I was 10 and I can remember it being in use, and used it myself.

“So it would be true to say that that part of the site at least has been in use for more than 60 years for recreational purposes.”

On the question of how frequently it is used, Councillor Minnery said: “It’s constant. It’s not just daily, it is regularly throughout the hours of daylight.”

Other members said the land was used by ramblers, dog walkers, bird watchers and 10k runners.

“Of all the proposals that we have seen over the last few years for this sort of designation, I think this one is head and shoulders above the rest,” Councillor Minnery said.

“I suggest we tell Shropshire Council that we support the proposal.”

Councillor Steve Glover added: “In support of what David said earlier, I think we should emphasise the fact that this is a buffer between the industrial and the dousing development at Sherwood Crescent and therefore should be maintained.”

Shropshire Council will now decide whether to list the land as an ACV, with a decision due by New Year’s Eve.

If the application is successful it would not necessarily prevent the landowner from pursuing the development, but the designation be judged by planning officers to be a material consideration in the determination of any planning application.

The ACV status would last for five years and would mean that if the landowner wanted to sell the site it would have to inform the council and allow six weeks for a qualifying community organisation to decide whether to bid to buy it.

The proposals have sparked opposition from nearby residents and led to the formation of a campaign group against the plans.

But the landowner says the scheme will benefit the community by providing much-needed affordable homes alongside a three-acre country park, cycle route, woodland walk, and better access to the River Tern.

A formal planning application has not yet been submitted.

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