Homes approved despite path concerns

Plans to build 21 houses on the site of a former paper mill have been approved, despite local councillors’ complaints a proposed footpath is “undeliverable” because it would be on a privately-owned verge.

Fletcher Homes Shropshire won outline planning permission on appeal three years ago, and have now won consent to start building on the three-acre site in Tibberton.

A report before the Telford and Wrekin Planning Committee says the council considers the verge to be “part of the adopted highway”, allowing the path to be constructed.

But Tibberton and Cherrington Parish Council chair Jim Berry said his vice-chair, Nick Eyles, emailed evidence to the planning department contradicting this.

A report before the committee said Fletcher Homes planned 13 houses for the open market and eight affordable homes. The outline permission included a “pedestrian safety scheme”. The report authors told councillors that, because it has previously been allowed, concerns about whether that could be delivered should not form part of their decision.

But, replying to concerns raised at an earlier meeting, they added: “The council’s highways officers consider that the verge required to deliver the pedestrian refuge falls as part of the adopted highway and, as such, is deliverable.

“No information has been received to the contrary since the outcome of the outcome of the previous committee and, as such, there is no evidence that the grass verge falls within privately-owned land.”

Councillor Berry brought printouts of a map which showing areas of grass verge owned or maintained by Telford and Wrekin Council or their contractors, a previous planning permission notice and a deed that he said contradicted this.

“This was sent to the planning officer in August with an email read receipt, yet it wasn’t mentioned at all in any of these reports,” he said.

Council solicitor Ian Ross reminded the committee that the “reserved matters” decision they had to make was only about the “appearance, landscaping and scale” of the new homes.

“They are not to do with the pedestrian refuge,” he said.

“The council considers that the pedestrian refuge can be provided within the adopted highway.

“Ownership of the subsoil is not unusual. It’s very frequent where land owners own the subsoil but it doesn’t stop the council carrying out work on the highway.”

Committee member Peter Scott said: “We would keep arguing this until we are blue in the face but, at some point, the applicant is going to come forward and we are going to lose appeals and end up paying costs.

“Reserved matters is what we’re here for and, on that basis, I don’t think I can challenge it.”

Councillors voted 5-1, with one abstention, to approve the application.

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