Council homes firm wants to demolish former school for houses

A village school which closed four years ago is set to be demolished for housing.

Hope Primary School closed in 2017
Hope Primary School closed in 2017

The plans for the former Hope Primary School site near Minsterley have been drawn up by Cornovii Developments Ltd, Shropshire Council’s own company.

A village green and a new 12-space car park for the village hall will also be provided.

The school building has fallen into disrepair and been targeted by vandals since it closed in August 2017 as part of a controversial merger with Worthen and Westbury schools.

Following delays getting the site signed off by the Department for Education, plans have now gone in for it to be bulldozed and replaced with six houses and three bungalows – which the developer says will help to address a shortage of two and three-bed properties in the area.

A planning statement submitted by BM3 Architects in support of the application says: “The size of dwellings contained in this application is a deliberate move away from the larger, executive housing that has been built locally… in order to cater for those that who wish to downsize and small/young families.”

No affordable homes are proposed for the development. Normally a 20 per cent affordable housing contribution is required, which would equate to 1.8 homes, but the site is likely to be eligible for ‘vacant building credit’ which reduces this requirement to 0.6 homes.

As the figure is less than one, the developer will instead pay a financial contribution towards affordable housing elsewhere.

The statement adds: “The community benefits that arise from this proposal are significant.

“The proposal will see the demolition and removal of the existing school building which the Parish Council indicate has been a target for anti-social behaviour.

“The provision of on-site public open space, a village green, improvements to the village hall car park are benefits that should be attributed weight.

“The proposal will also provide a contribution towards off-site affordable housing for which great weight should be attached.”

The statement says the scheme would bring economic benefits in the form of supporting local construction jobs and bringing in new residents to make use of the community facilities.

Worthen With Shelve Parish Council said it supported the development of the school site as long as new properties were in keeping with the character of the area, and consideration given to the fact that it lies within the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The trustees of Hope Village Hall (HVH) are also supporting the application. They said: “HVH wants to work with Cornovii Developments Ltd to make their development work.

“If planning is granted, there are still a number of construction and legal issues to resolve between HVH and Cornovii Developments Ltd; one such being the wider ownership of the village green and new parking area sufficient to satisfy the requirements of our community and the Charity Commission.

“These issues will be finalised in the form of an agreement between the parties.

“After receiving the above assurances from Cornovii Developments Ltd, HVH is pleased to support their application.”

The application will be decided by Shropshire Council.

It is the fourth development put forward by Cornovii since the company was formed in 2019, with the intention of building up to 1,000 homes across the county within five years.

The firm’s first homes in Shrewsbury are currently being built, while a second scheme in Ellesmere has been approved and a third, in St Martin’s, is awaiting a decision.

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