Eco house plan for Ironbridge Gorge granted planning permission

An eco-house can be built on garden land in the Ironbridge Gorge, after councillors voted to grant planning permission.

The land where the development is planned
The land where the development is planned

Landowner Anthony Wiggins applied to build the three-bedroom home on land between Woodside and School Road, Coalbrookdale, and said the design was chosen to “nestle” it into the landscape and make it less intrusive.

Speaking on behalf of “a significant number” of the house’s would-be neighbours, Lee Proudfoot, of Woodside, said the sloping site was “totally unsuitable for development”, and warned granting permission could cause traffic, drainage and land stability problems.

The Telford and Wrekin Council Planning Committee voted 6-2 to approve the plans.

Mr Proudfoot told members: “We feel that this proposal goes against many existing policies that have been previously used to refuse applications in the area.”

He pointed out that the council’s built heritage conservation officers had objected, calling the proposal “incongruous with the historic character and appearance of neighbouring structures” and said it was “difficult to design” any home for the site that “does not harm the views to and from the listed buildings below it, namely the row of cottages at School Road and the Old School House”.

But a report by planning officers, which described the site as “an open piece of land used informally as garden land”, said the benefits of the proposal outweighed any harm it might cause, and recommended the committee approve it.

Location

“The applicants have proposed a dwelling which is modern in appearance and will use sustainable and innovative technologies, such as a sedum and moss roof, an air source heat pump, a rainwater harvesting tank and a construction system which is as close to ‘passive house’ standard as possible,” the report said.

“Given the extent it would be nestled within the site and the proposed boundary treatments proposed, it would not have such a detrimental impact on the streetscene to warrant refusal.”

Mr Wiggins, who also lives on Woodside and bought the third-of-an-acre patch 15 years ago, said he had strived to achieve “the most appropriate and respectful form of development”.

“We understand how the location works, we’ve gardened it, we’ve lived opposite it all these years,” he said.

“I’ve made many representation to our neighbours and other objectors and supporters promising them faithfully we would do everything in our power to make this as painless as possible.

“The original design we put forward was hidden, and we’ve hidden it some more. We’ve dug it in the ground, put a grass roof on it – which while being moss and sedum on the plan will probably also be local wildflowers which we know work on the site because we’ve planted them there, they’re growing there.

“We’re respecting our neighbours’ privacy. There is intention to go above and beyond what the planning authority require us to do. If we find that we can see into somebody’s window, we will make sure we can’t, and that can be physically achieved.”

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