Shifnal Matters campaigners raise local plan concerns with Prime Minister

Campaigners fighting to prevent green belt land being lost to development are calling on Boris Johnson to halt Shropshire Council’s local plan review.

Shifnal Matters has been campaigning against the plans
Shifnal Matters has been campaigning against the plans

Shifnal Matters says comments made in the Prime Minister’s Conservative Party Conference speech last month – that previously developed ‘brownfield’ land should be prioritised for new building – mean local authorities across the country need to re-think their plans for future growth.

In an open letter to Mr Johnson, the campaign group asks for the Government to step in and pause the current review of Shropshire’s local plan – which, if adopted next year as expected, will set out where more than 30,000 houses across the country will be built up to 2038.

The letter says: “Shifnal Matters welcomes your commitment during your recent conference speech, for building on brownfield sites first to protect our precious green fields up and down the country.

“Given the environmental effect house building has on the UK and the need to protect and enhance our ecosystem we agree that every brownfield site should be used before looking elsewhere.

“We trust that a robust list of all brownfield sites has now been compiled to prevent the unnecessary destruction of our countryside in the future. We would hope that Shropshire Council is able to draw on this list to avoid the decimation of our irreplaceable green spaces that are used and loved by all.”

The group’s letter highlights the “urgency of the climate emergency” as further justification for keeping green spaces intact and building low-carbon homes that are genuinely affordable.

It also voiced concern that Shifnal has borne the brunt of development in Shropshire in recent decades, which has resulted in “a lack of vital infrastructure and road networks, with services such as doctors and schools overwhelmed”, and “dangerous levels” of traffic”.

It continues: “Yet still the local plan review of 2016 to 2038, currently being put through by Shropshire Council, holds further development for Shifnal. Over 2,000 more homes and 50 hectares of employment land, the equivalent of over 85 football pitches – all of which will lead to even more of a strain on our roads and services, increasing carbon emissions further and reducing our precious green spaces that you have pledged to protect.

“Land that is not only green spaces but almost 100 per cent farming land, which seems madness when we should surely be growing more of our own produce if we are to thrive as a nation post-Brexit.

“We know that we are not alone, as campaign groups throughout England are facing the same challenge with their local councils and nationwide developers.

“A UK group, ‘Community Planning Alliance’ have collated over 500 groups fighting to save their local green spaces and that number is growing. Groups that won’t be afraid to vote for what they believe in when election time comes round.

“That’s why we implore you, Mr Johnson, to call a halt to the local plan reviews that are in progress up and down the country.

“Reviews that are trying to open up our countryside and urban green spaces, that will enable developers to steal away these precious areas from the local communities that have relied on them so much during this pandemic.

“A halt until what is truly meant by brownfields first can be understood by politicians, developers and communities alike.”

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