Planning officers recommend refusal for Shropshire Council housing proposal

Plans put forward by Shropshire Council’s own housing company to build homes on a former school site have been recommended for refusal by planning officers.

The plans for the Ifton Heath Primary School site in St Martins.
The plans for the Ifton Heath Primary School site in St Martins.

Cornovii Developments Ltd wants to demolish the Ifton Heath Primary School building in St Martin’s to make way for 35 houses and bungalows.

Councillors will decide the application at a meeting of the northern planning committee next week, but officers say it should be rejected on the grounds that the school building is a heritage asset and the fact the site lies outside the village’s development boundary.

The plans include 13 affordable homes and have been supported by the council’s housing enabling team.

However historic environment officers said they were unsatisfied with the proposal to knock down the school, which closed in 2012.

They said the applicant had failed to submit an assessment of the interior of the building and justify why it could not be converted rather than demolished.

The council’s regulatory services and leisure services teams also objected to the application.

Regulatory services said: “The noise assessment concludes that the noise levels from the industrial site to the north west of the site and the road traffic noise from Overton Road are likely to have a significant adverse impact on the proposed development.”

Leisure services raised concerns over the loss of the school playing fields, saying proposals for additional playing fields to be created near St Martin’s School had not yet come to fruition and “without a significant sum of money the scheme is unlikely to be delivered”.

If the plans are approved, the developer will give £30,000 towards the new sports facilities, and would also make a contribution through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to support increasing pupil numbers at St Martin’s School.

The parish council had objected to the original plans but welcomed changes to the scheme including the retention of the School House. However the parish council said it could not see why the school building could not also be retained.

Further objections were received from Shropshire Playing Fields Association and nine members of the public.

Although the site is outside the St Martin’s development boundary, it is earmarked for housing in Shropshire Council’s new local plan, expected to be adopted next year.

A report by planning officer Jane Raymond says: “It is acknowledged that there is a benefit in bringing forward housing delivery and in in utilising previously developed land.

“The delivery of 35 new build homes and in particular the provision of 13 affordable homes is a significant benefit to the scheme.

“Other benefits include additional traffic calming, open space and a contribution to the provision of sports facilities in the community.

“However the overall benefits are not considered sufficient to outweigh the harm of the conflict with the adopted local plan and do not provide sufficient public benefit that would compensate for the loss of the old school building considered to be a non-designated heritage asset.

“Furthermore, very limited weight can be given to the emerging development plan as the local plan review has not yet reached a sufficiently advanced stage.”

The application will be decided by the northern planning committee at a meeting on Tuesday, March 9.

It is the third scheme put forward by Cornovii since it was formed in 2019 with a £14 million loan from the council with the intention of building up to 1,000 houses over five years.

Work is underway on the company’s first site in Monkmoor, Shrewsbury, and plans for its second development in Ellesmere were approved by the committee last month.

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