Shropshire Star

500 acres of parks and public space promised as part of controversial development near M54

More than 500 acres of private land will be converted into parks and space for the public as part of a controversial green belt housing plan, the team behind the scheme has pledged.

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An artist's impression of how the development could look

The proposals are part of Bradford Estates' plans for land near Tong and off Junction 3 of M54, which focus on building up to 3,000 houses and 50 hectares of business land.

The plans have been the subject of significant local opposition and now the managing director of Bradford Estates, Viscount Alexander Newport, has said that the space for public parks and recreation land would be three times the size of Attingham Park, and would include 10 miles of walking and cycling routes.

He said the plans include opening up of the 222-acre historic Lizard Wood, which is currently managed as a long term commercial forestry business – with four miles of trails and tracks as well as a bridleway and footpath.

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Lord Newport said: “Lizard Wood is a remarkable and historic part of the estate which was once said to be the home of a leper colony, and has always been of intrigue to local people.

"Being able to bring that to the community in the form of a woodland park with tracks, trials and paths will be of huge benefit to those in its locality, given Telford Town Park is the closest public green space of a comparable size."

He added: "We are proposing to convert many currently inaccessible arable fields into country parks, playing pitches and running tracks for all to enjoy. This is a beautiful area, and we want to make more of it open to the public.

Viscount Alexander Newport

“We want to promote the huge health benefits of being outdoors and give vast amounts of open space to dog walkers, joggers, hikers, picnickers, bird watchers, kite flyers, cyclists and horse riders.

“Parks and public areas of this nature are in short supply in this area, especially when you consider Shifnal has a population of 7,000 and Albrighton 4,000. Existing local residents will also benefit from our plans, not just the new residents.”

Bradford Estates said that one of the aims of the development is to have walking and cycle routes across the scheme, to allow people to travel safely throughout the settlement without a car.

An artist’s impression of how the development could look as part of Bradford Estates’ plans for land near Tong and off Junction 3

Lord Newport said there would also be new public access to blue ways and features such as the River Worfe and Church Pool at Tong, as well as other local pools and ponds.

He said: “We believe that by offering ways for children to walk to school and people to cycle to work, the health and wellbeing of the community will be enhanced, which is a key part of any 21st century development."

The proposals have been heavily criticised by campaign group Shifnal Matters and local MP Mark Pritchard, with both arguing against the loss of green belt land.

Shropshire Council will make a decision on whether the scheme will be allowed to progress in the coming weeks.