Shropshire Star

Cosford green belt ‘business park’ plan appeal is rejected

Plans to create employment ‘starter units’ for businesses in Cosford will not go ahead after planning inspectors threw out an appeal.

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The proposed scheme for a single building containing three business units on Long Lane was refused by Shropshire Council in February last year after planners decided it would be inappropriate for green belt land.

However applicants R & P Wood had appealed to government inspectors to overturn the council’s decision on the proposal, which would have expanded the existing Cosford Business Park site.

They said they had a “waiting list” of businesses ready to move into the units, which would provide employment to local people, and address a local need for business accommodation.

Council planners had ruled that the commercial benefits of the scheme would not outweigh any harm to the green belt land it was built on, and the council’s planning report said the “relatively substantial” building would be inappropriate for the site.

“It is accepted that the development of the site would have the potential to generate economic benefits of the type detailed in the applicant’s supporting submission,” they said.

Cosford Business Park, Long Lane. Photo: Google

“However, these benefits are considered to be outweighed by the harm to the openness of the green belt and no very special circumstances have been demonstrated or exist that would be of sufficient weight to justify the development in the green belt.”

They added that planning conditions to reduce the impact of the development on a neighbouring property to the north of the site would be “difficult to enforce”.

And on appeal, government inspector Samuel Watson upheld the council’s original decision, dismissing the applicant’s argument that the site formed part of the original 1938 RAF Cosford base, which is given special consideration for commercial development as a “major developed site” in local planning framework.

“The appeal site is not part of either [RAF Cosford or the RAF museum] and has not formed part of the RAF site for some considerable time,” he said.

“I am mindful of its rural location and the council’s support for rural economic development. However, the scheme is modest in scale providing only three new units. I therefore find that the proposed economic benefits would be moderate.

“The proposal would amount to inappropriate development in the green belt. Further harm would also occur, through the impact on the living conditions of neighbouring occupiers,” he added.

“These matters carry substantial weight. I have attached, at most, moderate weight to the considerations in support of the proposal. Consequently, the very special circumstances necessary to justify inappropriate development in the green belt do not exist.”