Shropshire campaigner warns proposals will mean population to grow by 75,000
A group set up to protect the countryside from development has warned that council plans for new homes in Shropshire will mean an extra 75,000 people living in the county.
Charles Green, a planning spokesman for the Shropshire branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, said Shropshire Council's proposals for development in the county would have a huge impact.
The proposals, which have been outlined in the council's 'preferred sites' report, list areas of the county where up to 28,750 homes will be built up until 2036.
The plans include large settlements and expansions for Bridgnorth and Shifnal, which have sparked a strong reaction from local residents and the formation of campaign groups to oppose the proposals.
Shropshire Council has argued that the plans are required to prevent developers from being able to build where they want in the county.
The council's planning expert Adrian Cooper has also said they will prevent towns falling into decline.
Mr Green has questioned the scale of the proposals, which he says do not factor in the prospect of huge 'one-off' development sites at Tong and Ironbridge Power Station, which could include another 10,000 homes.
He said: "Shropshire Council’s spokesman Adrian Cooper thinks that homes in the green belt next to Bridgnorth are a necessary evil, in order to save it from speculative developers, to prevent it from declining, and to keep up the availability of jobs.
"In Shropshire as a whole Mr Cooper and the council want to see 28,750 new houses built between 2016 and 2036, to achieve this “necessary evil”."
Mr Green said that the plans would outstrip the current predictions of population growth for the county by a considerable margin.
He said: "The government’s latest projections are that the population of Shropshire will rise by 20,400 in that 20 year period, from 314,400 to 334,800. That’s an increase of about 6.5 per cent in 20 years and is largely from net in-migration to the county.
"The building of 28,750 more houses would, on the latest projections, mean about another 65,000 people for Shropshire. That’s an increase of over 20 per cent in our county’s population, and is over three times the current projected increase.
"In fact it’s planned to be worse than that. The next round of consultation on these housing figures will reveal plans for houses on top of these figures, on the old Ironbridge Power Station site and maybe on the Bradford Estate in the green belt near Tong. Those could well bring in at least another 10,000 people, making the increase in Shropshire’s population more like 24 per cent.
"Does anyone other than Shropshire Council bosses and the development sector really think that we need another 75,000 people in Shropshire in order to improve the lives of the people who currently live in Bridgnorth and elsewhere around the county?"
A consultation on the plans closed earlier this month, and another consultation will take place later this year, before it is submitted to the Government for final approval, in Spring next year.
A spokesman for Shropshire Council said: “There will a further opportunity for people to have their say when the draft local plan is published this autumn. It is then set to be submitted to the secretary of state later this year before being examined by a government inspector in spring 2020.”