Shropshire's garden villages could become 'car-dependent commuter estates', says group

A campaign group has moved to highlight a national report showing new garden villages and towns risk becoming car-dependent commuter estates.

Shifnal Matters said the data by Transport for New Homes shows what could be in store for Shropshire's potential garden village sites, which include developments on the outskirts of Bridgnorth and a similar proposal off the M54 in Tong.

In its research, the transport group said it found from the 20 garden communities it assessed – which were still in various stages of the planning process – there would be up to 200,000 households dependent on driving.

The findings have been supported by the RAC Foundation, which said most people did not want to need a car to visit their nearest shop.

The report, which was published last week by the group that promotes alternatives to the car, reinforces the views of Shifnal Matters, which has been vocal in its opposition to the Bradford Estates' project off Junction 3 of the M54.

Zoe Turner, Shifnal Matters committee member, said: “With the nearest train stations of Shifnal and Cosford being 1.5 and 1.9 miles respectively, and no safe walking or cycling routes, the favoured mode of transport will more than likely be the car, increasing already busy roads to dangerous levels.

“Travel by train is already saturated at both stations, as Network Rail needs to electrify the line to be able to increase the service it offers and this is not something it is looking to do.

“Bradford Estates' plans are little more than a fairytale and a lot of what it is promoting is unlikely to be actually built.”

Jenny Raggett, project coordinator at Transport for New Homes, said: "Put forward by the government as an alternative to characterless estates, garden villages may well end up with more tarmac than garden, limited public transport, and few village amenities to walk or cycle to.”

The garden village concept was devised to overcome problems of resistance to housing estates bolted on to small towns.

The government's prospectus said these should be largely self-sustaining and genuinely mixed-use, with public transport, walking and cycling enabling access to jobs, education and services.

Bradford Estates has been contacted for comment.

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