Mary Beard lends voice against Oswestry hillfort homes plan

Shropshire's Mary Beard has added her voice to nationwide concerns over a major housing development at Old Oswestry hillfort.

Old Oswestry Hillfort
Old Oswestry Hillfort

The Much Wenlock-born classics professor, writer and TV presenter retweeted to her 259,000 followers a post from campaign group Save Old Oswestry calling for 50 more objections before the deadline on a consultation to build 91 homes at the historic site.

Other famous people to support the campaign to save the area from development include the academic and TV personality Professor Alice Roberts, Francis Pryor of Channel 4 Time Team fame, actor John Challis, and Viv and Ralf from Channel 4’s Gogglebox. The award-winning author and Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell, also tweeted her support.

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The social media activity caused a surge in objections against the application, made by Galliers Homes.

In Professor Alice Roberts’ objection on Shropshire Council’s website, she states: “Old Oswestry Hillfort is one of the best preserved hill forts in Britain. The proposed plan exceeds existing limits to development, and fundamentally fails to respect both the national importance of this site and its importance to local people. The development would have an irreversible impact on this very important piece of our national heritage.”

A spokesperson for Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort said: “The inspector’s criteria for rubberstamping this land allocation six years ago in Shropshire’s SAMDev plan have fundamentally changed. Oswestry’s targets for annual housing delivery are being scaled back, while changes concerning the legal status of the adjacent Cambrian line as an operating railway prevent the development from meeting key sustainability criteria on pedestrian and cycle access.

“New studies reaffirming the high value of the landscape around the hillfort north of Oswestry have seen Shropshire Council rule out any further allocations within this most sensitive of areas in their local plan review to 2036. The slim justification for housing that councillors and the Inspector were led to believe in 2014 no longer stands, and the site should simply not be developed.

“The masterplan for the current application entirely fails to meet Historic England’s requirements on the northern limit for building and acceptable design, and therefore Shropshire’s northern planning committee has compelling grounds to refuse permission.”

These are the third set of plans to be submitted by Galliers Homes within a year. Objections on the planning portal have reached almost 200

The 3,000-year-old hillfort is widely referred to as ‘The Stonehenge of the Iron Age’ for its unique design and pivotal importance together with its landscape for the understanding of Iron Age society.

The deadline for public comments was yesterday.

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