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Shropshire Chamber of Commerce 'got it wrong' in supporting Tong 'garden village', says Wrekin MP

By Rory Smith | Shifnal | News | Published: | Last Updated:

The chief executive of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce has "got it wrong" in supporting the development of a 'garden village' on green belt land near Tong, claims Wrekin's MP.

Mark Pritchard

Mark Pritchard has rebutted comments made by Richard Sheehan which stated that building thousands of houses and a large business site on land north of Junction 3 of the M54 is "vital" in boosting the economy.

Mr Sheehan was speaking in a letter sent to Viscount Alexander Newport, the managing director of the Bradford Estates – the property company behind the proposals.

The discussion centres around plans to build up to 3,000 homes and a 50-hectare business site to match an unmet housing need from the Black Country.

In a video responding to Mr Sheehan's claims, the Tory MP said supporting the development "doesn't show the chamber in its best light".

Mr Pritchard said: "I'm afraid the leadership of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, I think, have not been really listening to the pulse of people in Shifnal, Albrighton and Tong.

"While I support their work, as I hope they support my work to attract new investment and jobs into Shropshire, it should not be at any price.

"There are plenty of brownfield sites to build new industrial, business and commercial units both in Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire.

"It doesn't have to be on pristine green belt, so I'm afraid on this one the leadership of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce has got it wrong."

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Mr Sheehan also said that many of the county's thriving business parks were built on green belt land.

But Mr Pritchard went on to highlight vacancies on business parks including Stafford Park and Hortonwood.

Mr Pritchard added: "Digging up the environment, that's hardly sustainable and doesn't show the chamber in its best light as far as our climate change emergency and climate change targets.

"Let's not dig up the greenbelt. Let's put commercial buildings and business units on brownfield land."

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The development is being proposed as a solution to an unmet housing need from the Black Country.

An Urban Capacity Study published by the Association of Black Country Authorities identified a shortfall of about 26,920 homes which cannot be accommodated in the region and outlined a need to build houses in neighbouring authorities.

A decision on the plans is set to be made in May.

Rory Smith

By Rory Smith
Reporter - @rorysmith_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley, Telford.

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