Holiday caravan site approved near Ironbridge despite traffic fears

Plans for 106 static caravans and 48 holiday lodges at a site near the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site have been granted at the third time of asking.

The B4380. Photo: Google.
The B4380. Photo: Google.

Planners at Shropshire Council heard that applicants Montague Property and Marnwood Properties had made changes to the plans for the Buildwas Leisure Site and have done enough to overcome traffic concerns for the sloping agricultural site that is used to graze sheep.

The 19.6 hectares of land is very close to the former Ironbridge Power Station site where plans for 1,000 new homes have also been approved. A new roundabout is on the cards to help deal with increases in traffic from both sites.

But councillors at Shropshire Council's southern planning committee were told that the authority's own highways experts have run the rule over the impact on the road network, including the B4380 through Leighton and according to an audit it should not be a problem.

Councillors at Tuesday's meeting welcomed the removal of 53 touring caravans from the plans. This means they will not have to cause issues getting into and out of the site.

Members of the committee were told that council landscape officers saw "no significant impact" from the scheme, which includes the excavation of a bank for an access road.

Councillor Mark Thorn, of Leighton and Eaton Constantine Parish Council, said a one sixth increase in traffic on the B4380 through Leighton has been left "un-addressed and unresolved". He called for £10,000 to help the parish deal with traffic and for the road not to be used by construction traffic.

Amy Henson, of planning agent Berrys, said it was the third time the application had been put to councillors, the touring caravans had been removed and there were no objections from highways.

She said that a local firm was interested in purchasing the site and investing in the local economy by creating jobs.

But Councillor Tony Parsons was "not enthralled" by the plan but said it was "fair to say" that the applicant had changed the scheme to deal with concerns.

Councillor Richard Marshall was "astounded" with the council's highways department saying it would have no impact on the roads.

He added that he was not convinced by the jobs argument.

Saying that he is a "believer in the rural economy" he said employers were already struggling to recruit staff.

"Employment probably isn't the biggest thing at the moment," he said.

For him the nearby World Heritage Site at Ironbridge and the area of outstanding natural beauty is very important.

"Can we decimate the area any more?" he asked.

But councillors Nigel Lumby, a keen caravanner, and Hilary Luff, supported the application, with conditions.

Councillors were told it would be difficult to impose conditions on the plan because an independent road safety audit had passed it fit. There were no grounds to reject it for highways reasons, or to impose extra rules.

However council officers agreed to consider ways to route construction traffic without putting it through Leighton.

Councillors voted by 10 in favour, and none against, to approve the plan. Councillor Marshall abstained.

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