Appeal under way on plans for 150 homes in Muxton

Developers, council officers and worried residents drew their battle lines in an appeal for 150 homes to be built in a Telford village.

The planning inquiry was launched yesterday after Telford & Wrekin Council failed to make a decision over the plans for land near Wellington Road in Muxton.

Seabridge Developments lodged the appeal over the length of time the council was taking, which then said it would have refused the plans in a final decision.

Yesterday at the inquiry, chaired by planning inspectorate Hayden Bough-Jones, opening remarks set out the argument which will be debated for a total of four days.

Speaking at the event held at Meeting Point House in Southwater, David Manley, on behalf of the appellant said a number of the council's policies were "out-of-date" and "out-of-step".

He claimed a number of the parts of the council's development plan, including those relating to housing land supply, should therefore not be given significant weighting in deciding this appeal.

He added: "There is no room for complacency in respect of housing land supply in Telford.

"Landscaping and visual impact, in reality that is the principle issue in this case. I am not suggesting that the other issues are not important, but the principle issue has to be this.

"It is a complicated debate and I will say no more in my opening remarks."

Mr Manley also said that previous concerns relating to accessibility, highways and footpaths around the site could be resolved, after a homeowner came forward with an offer of land to create an extended pathway.

However in response Sarah Clover, on behalf of Telford and Wrekin Council, said: "There is a relatively complex situation regarding plans and policies in the fact that the council is currently between two plans.

"The council says that the relative policies can still be given weight. It would not be appropriate to give reduced weight to appropriate policies purely because of age."

Many of these policies, she added, were "common sense" and related to building within settlement boundaries, and combatting over development of sites.

She added: "The council is confident that the same sensible principles will guide this appeal as they have preceding appeals."

Ms Clover said it appeared the appellant wanted to "gloss over" some of the key issues relating to the provision of affordable homes, as well as footpaths and accessibility.

The proposals would include about 30 affordable homes, however more than 300 residents signed a petition against the plans over fears of over development and highways issues.

Speaking at the meeting, Jenny Urey, of Sutherland Drive in Muxton, said she represented the hundreds of people against the plans.

A number, she said, were concerned about a loss of the village's heritage as well as its open countryside.

She said: "While the community accepts that changes have to be made, the heritage should not be neglected or hidden. Creating more houses takes away our village status and closes and removes some of our local heritage."

Ms Urey added that the village already suffers from speeding vehicles and branded one of its man roads a "death trap".

Last month, it was revealed that a planning inspector had dismissed an appeal for a nearby site submitted by another housing developer to build 78 properties off Muxton Lane.

Planning inspector Martin Whitehead found the proposal would result in a serious adverse effect on the character and appearance of the surrounding countryside.

The planning inquiry continues.

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