British Ironwork Centre 'in limbo' as planning application withdrawn
A tourist attraction has withdrawn a long-running retrospective planning application for its site.
Bosses at the British Ironwork Centre near Oswestry have revealed they were invited to withdraw their current retrospective application by Shropshire Council’s planning officers.
They have also said they feel commercial opponents have derailed the application process.
A crucial meeting on the long-running issue will be held with council officials on Monday.
The planning application for tourist buildings, a sculpture park, and warehousing that have been built on the site off the A5, was submitted two years ago.
After a visual impact statement, commissioned by Shropshire Council, was published in December, chairman and director of the Ironwork Centre, Clive and Ben Knowles, said they were invited to withdraw the current application and resubmit a fresh application.
The statement described the initial application as “lacking in detail” and “confusing”.
There has also been an objection from Paterson Enterprises, the parent company of Morris Leisure which owns land close to the site.
It called for a visual impact statement to be produced.
Ben Knowles said: “We feel that we have become the victim of a commercial bomb.
"We had no option but to withdraw our planning application despite doing every single thing that has been asked of us over the past two years.”
The application has attracted hundreds of letters of support but critics say the site should not have been developed without planning permission.
Clive Knowles said the centre was now in limbo.
He said: "We were expecting the application to go before Shropshire Council in November with an officer recommendation to grant permission. Now suddenly the process has been derailed and everything is up in the air. We are in limbo.
"I hope that things will become a lot clearer when we have a meeting with planning officers on Monday."
He added: “We are a family business that runs a free tourist attraction for Shropshire and, we believe, we have put Oswestry on the map with our high profile initiatives, such as the knife angel.
"We and our 85-strong staff are very concerned about the future for the centre."
“We feel that it is only the vexatious few that led us to this point.”
He said the business now has three months to decide on its future course and to submit a new planning application.
The British Ironwork Centre drew national attention when it created a gorilla sculpture made entirely from spoons for television presenter Uri Geller.
It went on to build an angel sculpture made from thousands of knives confiscated by or handed into police forces across the UK as a national monument for peace.