Residents discuss Ironbridge Power Station plans - voicing concern over education, health and transport
Residents have voiced concern over the impact of 1,000 new homes on school places and GP services in Ironbridge.
A public meeting organised by the Gorge Parish Council attracted around 50 residents who had their say on the issues surrounding plans for the redevelopment of the former Ironbridge Power Station.
One of the concerns from those attending was over the potential impact on school places.
A primary school is set to feature as part of the development, but secondary school pupils living at the site are expected to attend existing schools, although funds will likely be provided from the developer, Harworth, to expand those affected.
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Angela Silkstone of Ironbridge, asked: "A primary school is all very well but how many children will be needing to go to secondary school and the secondary schools do not have space for 1,000 potential kids?"
Telford & Wrekin Councillor for the Ironbridge Gorge, Carolyn Healy, told the meeting that children from the new development would be likely to attend William Brookes School in Much Wenlock – potentially limiting the number of Ironbridge children who would be able to attend the school.
She said Telford & Wrekin Council may have to look at expanding its own schools in response.
She said: "In discussions with the developers there has been some talk about expanding William Brookes.
"My concern is a lot of Gorge children go to William Brookes.
"The concern is it displaces children from the Gorge and then we have to find places for them in Telford & Wrekin."
Responding to the concern following the meeting, Harworth said it understood the worries but that the project would be built over a 10- to 15-year period and that it is in discussions with both Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Councils about the issue.
Shropshire Council has also rejected suggestions at the meeting that the William Brooke site has constraints that prevent expansion.
Phil Wilson, Shropshire Council’s service manager for business support, in learning and skills, said: “The development is in the catchment area for William Brookes School (an academy) and so there will be a requirement to assess the capacity at the school to accommodate the additional secondary aged pupils emerging from the site.
“Engagement has taken place with the senior leaders at the school about this and plans will be developed over time, based on the build out rate on the site and the timing of the additional capacity being required (the development is understood to be for 1,000 houses over 10 years). The school has confirmed that there are no specific constraints on the site that indicate that the additional capacity cannot be accommodated.”
During the meeting another resident raised concern about impact on access to GPs.
Councillor Healy said that a surgery was included in the proposals, but that it was important to ensure there is no impact on existing practices.
She said: "Harworth will build a building but the issue for me is where will the doctors come from because we have a national shortage of doctors.
"In the comments we have made so far we have been very clear we do not want to see any medical provision on the development site at the expense of medical provision in the Gorge. We do not want to see our medical practice close and relocate."
One of the positive aspects raised was suggestion of reopening the railway line in to the site on a commercial basis.
Residents said they wanted the focus to be on creating a commuter rail link and not on a heritage railway.
Carol Goodfellow from Ironbridge said: “A commuter line has to be the priority over a heritage line because that is one the big pluses from the plans.”
There were other concerns raised at the meeting with one man saying he had been unable to sell his house due to the plans, and that a prospective buyer had pulled out of a deal when they found out about the plans for the power station site.
Another resident also questioned what the development would be called, saying: "I find it very irritating when I go past the sign saying Ironbridge regeneration."