Shropshire Star

'A dreadful disaster': Fury as Shrewsbury housing estate refusal is overturned

Fearful residents are warning that a decision to allow 146 new homes on the outskirts of Shrewsbury will be a "dreadful disaster" for their area.

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Members of Meole Village Residents Association protesting about traffic conditions in 2020

Last month a planning inspector controversially overturned Shropshire Council's refusal of plans for a new housing estate on land south of the Meole Brace Retail Park.

"This will be a dreadful disaster for Meole Village," said Susan Luther who chairs the Meole Village Residents Association.

"We are becoming like an island because we can't get out with all the traffic.

"We're so fed up with being hemmed in with all the traffic."

The council had refused the application in 2019 because it was not yet on development land in the local plan. It was only in the draft version of a new plan which is awaiting government comments.

But the planning inspector making the decision on behalf of the Bristol-based Planning Inspectorate decided that it would make a good contribution to the Shropshire council's target to provide 27,500 new homes by 2026.

Shrewsbury's share of that is approximately 6,500 and the inspector said it would "positively support the Government’s objective of significantly boosting the supply of homes".

Meole Brace councillor Bernie Bentick, who sits on both Shropshire Council and Shrewsbury Town Council, fears the "shameful" decision will add to "massive congestion" already seen at peak times in Hereford Road, Oteley Road, and Bage Way.

"This calamitous error by a remote Government bureaucrat will mean further gridlocking of the roads approaching The Meole Retail Park, with more misery and frustration for shoppers and visitors at peak hours, weekends and match days," said Councillor Bentick.

He said he does not believe that planned improvements to the nearby park and ride will ease traffic concerns.

"I support the idea of improved access to the park and ride but it needs investment in the infrastructure and active travel, which isn't happening," said Councillor Bentick.

"It's an unmitigated disaster. Residents have campaigned for many years to improve the completely inadequate traffic infrastructure on The Meole Retail Park.

"As elected Meole councillor since May 2021, I have repeatedly asked Shropshire Council officers and members to take urgent action on local traffic issues, including Hereford Road," he added.

Mrs Luther said: "Giving developers literally carte blanche is not right."

She called for a petition to Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Daniel Kawcynski and Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The site lies between Meole Brace Retail Park and the park and ride.

"Having spoken at planning meetings previously on behalf of local residents I have experienced before this over-riding of local voices," she said.

"It makes us very angry, because mostly what we know will happen comes true.

"I also have to add that some of our council departments also need to stand up for us."

The decision was also slated by some users of the Shropshire Star's Facebook page.

Tim Bebb said: "Absolute bloody clowns, that will be more road congestion, more pressure on doctors surgeries and hospitals, more pressure on schools. What is the point of local democracy if the planners just keep on over ruling. There will be no green space left soon."

Karen Surridge added: "Mindblowingly stupid."

A spokesman for Shropshire Council said the authority does not have any plans to appeal the Planning Inspectorate's decision.

The council added that the new Local Plan is with the Planning Inspectorate for examination and "it is likely this issue will be a point of discussion at the public hearing sessions, likely to take place later this year”.

A spokesperson added that the Local Plan should "seek to achieve at least" its defined housing need over the plan period.

"In the case of the draft Local Plan 2016-2038, the proposal is to exceed this baseline housing need in order to achieve a housing requirement broadly comparable with previous housing delivery rates in the county."