Shropshire Star

Community group 'gazumped' as Church of England sells land earmarked for nature project to developer

The Church of England has been criticised for selling off a parcel of land to developers to build a housing estate despite having already accepted a bid from a village community group for a re-wilding project.

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Villagers in Benthall at a council meeting to object to the development now proposed for the land

Members of Floyer Lane Community Group said the church allowed them to be "gazumped" over the sale of land in Benthall, just outside Broseley.

Despite winning a sealed tender process with the Church of England's asset department - the Church Commissioners - which owns the land, the villagers say the church sold it from under them to a developer, who plans to build 100 homes on the land.

The group had planned to turn the area into a wildlife haven and provide the villagers a place to relax.

Richard Smith, a computer consultant who has lived in Benthall for 30 years, explained.

He said: "There were nine of us that got together. We came up with a bid to protect the land. We wanted to use it to make more room for natural flowers, mammals, a sort of a re-wilding project although that is a bit of a simplification as it would be managed piece of land that wold maximise the mammals and wild plants."