Oswestry hillfort homes plan ‘thoughtless and unsympathetic, according to campaigners
Plans for dozens of homes near an Iron Age hillfort are an “injustice” to the heritage of the area, it has been claimed.
Campaign Group Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort (HOOOH) says plans for up to 120 homes near the site are “thoughtless” and “unsympathetic”.
The plans have been submitted to Shropshire Council by Berrys on behalf of Galliers Homes.
The site was included in Shropshire Council’s SAMDev housing policy five years ago.
The company has put in plans for 52 homes in phase one and has asked for outline permission for more homes in phase two.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that no new developments would be accepted around the hillfort site as part of the council’s local plan review. However, this development outdates that review.
A statement from HOOOH said: “The application is an injustice to the heritage significance of the nationally protected Iron Age site, with off-the-shelf housing, lack of compliance with Historic England’s design criteria, and sub-standard and seemingly rushed Environment Impact Assessments, which have downplayed heritage value, in particular, development within the setting of a scheduled monument.
“The masterplanning, inadequate design and heritage impact assessments show that the very high degree of significance of this unique hillfort and its setting are not being recognised or appropriately mitigated.
“It also fails to address Historic England’s guidance on development within the setting of a designated heritage asset and the statement of common ground agreed between Historic England and Shropshire Council for a design that would enhance the setting for the scheduled monument.”
The group said that elsewhere, the plans reveal that the presence of the historic Vyrnwy Aqueduct running under the site has necessitated the addition of attenuation ponds and a pumping station at the eastern extreme of the masterplan to deal with surface drainage.
“This appears to take the development outside the new town boundary so is not compliant with the local plan,” HOOOH said.
The group added that it has dismissed the planning agent’s claim that it would be illegal not to develop the site.
The group said it maintains that even though the land allocation is included in Shropshire’s SAMDev local plan, development is “not a given”.
Professor Vincent Gaffney, anniversary chair in landscape archaeology at the University of Bradford, added: “Old Oswestry is unique both regionally and nationally, and our knowledge of the site, and its setting, has significant implications for our understanding of society and the economy of Iron Age Britain, and also the succeeding Roman period.
“Thoughtless and unsympathetic development of the area around the hillfort will diminish Old Oswestry’s value as a historical and an amenity resource for regional communities, as well as visitors to the area, for many generations to come and perhaps forever.
“Such developments must be reconsidered and stopped.”
On Shropshire Council’s decision not to include developments around the hillfort in the local plan review, HOOOH added: “This outlook gives the correct weight to the heritage stature of both the hillfort and setting and to the community’s cultural appreciation of them, resulting from huge opposition to the application and expert opinion to evidence Old Oswestry’s national importance.
“If this was being considered for the local plan now, it would undoubtedly be rejected, too.
“We would urge those that want to conserve this outstanding heritage site that there is every reason to keep objecting.”