Homes plan unveiled for land near Oswestry hill fort
Detailed plans for homes in Oswestry close to one of the UK's most important ancient hill forts have been unveiled by developers.
Objections from across the UK failed to prevent the land off Whittington Road, Oswestry, being designated for housing in Shropshire Council's updated SAMDev housing policy five years ago.
Now Galliers Homes has applied to Shropshire Council for planning permission for 52 homes on the first phase of the land along with outline planning permission for the second parcel of adjoining land.
It says the decision as to which housebuilder will develop phase two, about the same amount of housing, will be made later.
In a report to planners the applicants say the site was discussed at great lengths by Shropshire Council, Historic England, Oswestry Town Council and others from 2012-14 before it was allocated for housing. That decision was ratified by a planning inspector in 2014.
The decision was met with huge disappointment from the Hands off Old Oswestry Hillfort campaign group which had organised petitions and a Hands of our Hillfort demonstration. They maintain the hillfort is as important as Stonehenge.
Dr Rachel Pope, senior lecturer in European prehistory at University of Liverpool, said of the hillfort at the time: "Everyone understands you can't bulldoze a monument but what people don't realise is the landscape has the same protection as the monument itself. It's been there for 3,000 years, it's a very, very loved and respected monument by the people of Oswestry."
Helen Howie, planning consultant in the report for Galliers Homes, says the proposed development would make a significant contribution towards infrastructure including junction improvements at the A5/A483/Whittington road junction, new pedestrian and cycle paths and improved pedestrian access to the hill fort.
She also points out that of the 2,600 houses needed in Oswestry, only 925 have been built.
"Land is allocated in the local plan sufficient for 1,127 dwellings, but the council acknowledges that 425 of these are unlikely to be delivered within the plan period. Oswestry's current housing supply is only 1,794 dwellings, 806 short of its requirement."
The report says that while the hillfort is about 450 metres to the west of the site, the proposed development would not have any physical impact on the monument.
"National and local planning policy require any impact on its setting to be careful considered," it says.
"In relation to the setting of the hill fort there is no certainly over what the landscape looked like during 800BC-43AD or how much of it is wooded. We can however, be certainly that the landscape has had significant change over the centuries.
"Old Oswestry Hill Fort occupies a place in the midst of continual change."