Pathway through Ironbridge Power Station site could attract tourists
A pathway through a major development of the Ironbridge Power Station site would bring tourists to the area, it has been claimed.
Shropshire Council’s Great Outdoors Strategy Board said a route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders through the iconic site would boost visitor figures, improve health and give people the chance to meet neighbours and friends.
The board will now write to the developers Harworth calling for a pathway between the site and Buildwas.
Anna Suffolk, of Telford & Wrekin Local Access Forum, told the meeting that she felt it would be an ideal opportunity to include the pathway.
She said: “There are some tremendous walking routes in the gorge but they don’t really link up and this would be an ideal way to do that.
“I attended a consultation event and expressed these wishes and the developers seemed to encourage the idea.
“People could be encouraged to stay in the gorge for longer, an overnight trip, or an afternoon, they could walk to Buildwas Abbey and in turn spend money in the shops, pubs and restaurants.
“It would be a boost to health and economically.”
Clare Fildes, Shropshire Council’s Outdoor Partnership Enterprise manager, said it would be ideal to get an area without vehicles in the development.
The committee agreed to send a letter to the developers urging them to consider the pathway.
The power station was decommissioned in November 2015 and demolition work will start later this year.
Harworth said the iconic cooling towers, which are structurally unsound, will come down.
Up to 1,000 homes could be built on both brownfield and greenfield sites, with the full project taking up to 15 years to complete.
Leisure facilities will be enhanced as part of the scheme, and nearby footpath and cycling links will be connected to the site.
In the summer the company will submit its planning application for its final plans.
The proposed wording of the letter from the board to the developers is: “Outdoor leisure tourism is a major driver of the local economy in both Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
“Currently, there is no east-west route along the flat river plain between Ironbridge and Buildwas along the south of the river for local people and tourists to use on foot, on horseback or on a cycle.
“Two National Cycleways meet at the Ironbridge in the Severn Gorge.
“Interestingly, the old railway line continued on to Shrewsbury, the other side of Buildwas bridge, opposite Buildwas Abbey.
“Not to continue this route through the power station site would be a missed opportunity should funding become available via a charity such as Sustrans or via funding from other sources to continue these long distance routes ‘off-road’ to Shrewsbury.
“This line would be marvellous bridleway for local riders and again it connects with the long distance Jack Mytton Way Bridleway in the Gorge.
“The logical main access point on foot, by cycle and on horseback is via the line of the disused railway line from the east.
“To make a non-vehicle access and route through the site from where the old railway terminates at the boundary would not only be a wonderful opportunity for outdoor leisure tourism but it would enable the local communities on either side of the gorge to interact socially and economically.
“This is especially important for those groups such as the young, poor or old without access to cars.”
Report by Andrew Morris, local democracy reporter