Shropshire Star

Former bowling green to be bulldozed for religious meeting hall

A “much loved” former village bowling green will be bulldozed after council planners gave the go-ahead for a new religious building on the site.

Last updated
A former bowling green in Ford, Shropshire, which will become a church after planning was approved.

The green at Ford, opposite the former Smoke Stop restaurant on the A458, will make way for a meeting hall and car park for the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church.

A separate outline application for a house on the remainder of the site was also approved.

The church says the building will be used for two services per week on a Sunday and Monday for up to 35 people, with “occasional meetings” at other times.

David Kilby, of the Shropshire Playing Fields Association, made an impassioned plea to Shropshire Council’s Southern Planning Committee committee to save the bowling green, telling them that the development would not contribute to the health and wellbeing of the local community, and would represent the loss of a “much loved and valued community space”.

“The officer’s report fails to acknowledge or seek to recognise the injustice felt by the 1,000 residents of Ford village and its nearby surrounds for the loss of their much loved 90-year-old high-quality bowling green which has attracted, over the years, 15,000 members,” he said.

Planning permission for two houses on the site was granted in 2022, although work was never started. It was due to expire in April next year.

Local councillor Roger Evans told the committee that the green had fallen out of use since the bowling club was forced to leave the site around ten years ago, and said the granting of planning permission for the earlier scheme in 2022 meant it was unlikely that the land could be put back to use as a bowling green.

“We are where we are with this site and although I would like to see everything returned back to a bowling green, the reality is it’s now got [existing] planning permission, ” he said.

Planning consultant Nigel Thorns, on behalf of the applicant, said issues relating to the loss of the bowling green had been assessed when the previous application was approved, and were no longer relevant.

“I apologise for being blunt, but this site will be built on whether it’s the bungalow that the committee approved in 2021, or whether it’s the new meeting hall that’s approved, hopefully, today,” he said.

“The building will be used infrequently, the use is quiet and it will cause no amenity problems to any neighbouring property.”

Discussing the scheme, Councillor Tony Parsons agreed the loss of playing fields was regrettable, but said he did not see anything to object to in the application.

“Councillor Evans summed up the situation well. I’m also concerned about the loss of playing facilities but this one has probably already gone, in that there is planning permission already agreed for the development of two houses for this site,” he said.

The committee approved both planning applications unanimously.