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Campaigners hit back over claims M54 development would bring £400 million into Shropshire every year

By Rory Smith | Shifnal | Property | Published:

Campaigners against plans for thousands of houses near Tong have accused developers of 'dangling the promise of millions of pounds' in front of Shropshire Council weeks before it decides on the proposals.

What Tong could look like under the plans

Shifnal Matters has rebutted claims from the Bradford Estates that building 3,000 homes and a 50-hectare business site on green belt land near Junction 3 of the M54 could inject nearly £400 million into the county every year.

The action group said it was 'appalled' that the subject of money had been put before a 'cash-strapped' council ahead of the cabinet meeting set to decide whether the project will go ahead on February 12.

The latest development comes after Viscount Newport, managing director of the Bradford Estates, highlighted what he said will be the multi-million benefits of the scheme outlined in a report commissioned by his organisation.

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But protestors have hit back saying money should not be a deciding factor to secure the project, which has been put forward on behalf of the Association of Black Country Authorities (ABCA) to meet a shortfall of about 26,920 houses over the next 18 years.

A spokesperson for Shifnal Matters said: "As the date for the final decision on the Junction 3 Tong development approaches, Shifnal Matters is appalled that Bradford Estates brings money to the forefront with the latest ploy, persuading Shropshire Council to allow precious green belt to be used for West Midlands' housing and employment land shortfall."

The Bradford Estates' proposals also include schools, health and community facilities, a sustainable transport system, shops, fitness facilities and, potentially, higher education facilities.

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'Unique opportunity'

But the suggestions of infrastructure have raised eyebrows among opposition, including Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard.

Mr Pritchard said: "These claims just don't stack up. There is no need for housing to be built on green belt."

Lord Newport responded by saying the scheme would provide a 'unique opportunity' to invest in Shropshire's economy.

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He said: “This garden village-style development will secure the future of the area, bringing vital jobs, affordable homes, upgraded road and rail infrastructure, training facilities and apprenticeships, schools and doctor surgeries, all delivered within a thoughtful green landscape masterplan and supported by renewable technologies with the aim of being zero carbon.

The development would be built to the West of Tong, on the other side of the A41

“A report by international property consultants Savills, commissioned by us, has outlined the huge benefits of this project, and we believe it is a unique opportunity for Shropshire Council to secure its economic future."

Councillor Paul Fisher, chairman of Tong Parish Council said the claims to provide new schools, health and community facilities and higher education facilities were 'extremely questionable'.

Lord Newport added: “My family have been the stewards of this land for 1,000 years and everything we are planning we believe will be to the benefit of the local area and the whole of Shropshire. We are happy to speak to anyone with concerns."

Residents can contact Lord Newport at newport@bradford-estates.co.uk

Rory Smith

By Rory Smith
Reporter - @rorysmith_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley, Telford.

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