Green belt considered to develop new homes in Shropshire

"Controversial" plans to use green belt land for development will be included in Shropshire Council's new housing blueprint.

Some areas of green belt land could be redeveloped under plans
Some areas of green belt land could be redeveloped under plans

The authority is updating its plans for housing and says another 10,000 homes are needed across the county.

Cabinet members will be asked to approve the draft consultation document for the Local Plan 2016-2036, which sets out locations for development, at a meeting at Shirehall on Wednesday.

The authority's review has identified the need for an additional 10,250 houses and 300 hectares of employment land, and council officers have chosen 70 preferred sites for the development.

Adrian Cooper, planning policy and strategy manager at Shropshire Council, said some of the preferred sites are on green belt land.

He said: "This land is to the south of the A5 and to the east of the River Severn and it's there to stop Telford joining up with the likes of Shifnal and Albrighton.

"Our green belt land has not changed since the 90s. There will be implications of putting it up for development. There are areas around Shifnal and Bridgnorth which are proposed for release from the green belt for development.

"It will be controversial but we have to jump through hoops to get this land released. We have to look for alternatives first and it will be something that is argued over relentlessly going forward."

Mr Cooper said there is an "eastern bias" with the majority of the preferred sites falling along the M54 corridor and the likes of Bridgnorth, Market Drayton and also Shrewsbury.

"There is not an even split," he said. "For instance, Oswestry may be our second largest town but the planned levels of growth there are modest because they have not brought forward everything in the last plan."

He also said it vital that employment land is found so existing Shropshire firms are not forced to move when they want to expand.

"We're finding companies who would prefer to stay here but need more space and there is currently no room to expand. We're also seeing companies interested in inward investment. People from elsewhere want new premises built for them in Shropshire."

The draft document shows Albrighton, Bishops Castle, Broseley, Church Stretton, Ellesmere and Craven Arms are among the chosen "key centres" for development.

If approved the consultation will run for nine weeks ending at the start of 2019, before a second consultation takes place later next year. It will then need to be approved by the planning inspectorate.

Mr Cooper said: "This is not the end of the process – it is very much just the start. It will not be finished until late 2020."

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