Shifnal campaigners add to criticism of Shropshire Council's land advertisement scheme

Shropshire Council has again come under fire for advertising parts of the county to developers before the end of consultation on the sites was completed.

Sites throughout the county, which have been the subject of opposition from residents, feature in a leaflet put together by Invest in Shropshire – the council’s department set up to attract investment to the county.

The leaflet features 30 investment sites, including several which have not yet been approved for development.

Consultation on a number of included sites came to an end in September, despite the investment brochure having been available for at least 12 months.

The situation previously led to campaigners from Save Bridgnorth Green Belt group accusing the council of pre-empting its decisions on plans for thousands of houses in Stanmore – a call which has now been echoed by protestors in Shifnal.

Sites included on the leaflet are land at Tong, which has been put forward for around 3,000 homes and commercial land, and at Shifnal, where residents are strongly opposed to plans for more than 1,500 homes and a large business site.

All the listings state the sites are “subject to the current local plan review to be concluded in 2020”.

Traffic flow

Zoe Turner, of campaign group Shifnal Matters, said: "With Shropshire Council's place plan consultation coming to an end in September, Shifnal Matters was shocked to find part of Shifnal's green belt already being touted for sale.

"A glossy brochure shows 38 hectares of the Ruckley Estate, just off Stanton Lane, as an area proposed for employment land and is being earmarked for industrial, storage and distribution purposes.

"This would no doubt add to the increasing traffic flow through Shifnal town centre if allowed to go ahead.

"It makes a mockery of the consultation process when areas are being advertised as investment opportunities like it’s a done deal.

"How can residents have any confidence that their voices will be heard in a democratic way and that they are able to shape the area they actually live in?”

Robert Macey, Shropshire Council's cabinet member for housing and strategic planning, said: “The document in question was prepared in February 2020 to highlight potential areas for investment opportunities and specifically includes the wording: Subject to the Local Plan Review to be concluded 2021.

“As everyone is aware, that review is ongoing, and should it conclude the land should not be included then obviously it will cease to be an investment opportunity as featured.

“We have just closed our fifth round of consultation in the plan review. Any comments received on this site will, as with all sites, be considered when preparing the plan."

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