Shropshire business boss backs plan for thousands of homes near M54 in Tong

A business leader has backed plans for a ‘garden village’ of thousands of homes and a large business site on green belt land near Tong.

Richard Sheehan, chief executive of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce
Richard Sheehan, chief executive of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce

Richard Sheehan said the Bradford Estates’ proposals to build up to 3,000 homes and a 50-hectare business site on land near Junction 3 of the M54 were an “exciting development” which could attract "vital" young talent to boost the economy.

Mr Sheehan, the chief executive of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, was speaking in a letter sent to Viscount Alexander Newport, managing director of the Bradford Estates, in which he said many of the county’s current thriving business parks were built on green belt land.

The letter states: “I recognise your plan develops green belt land which will no doubt court controversy, however it is business that drives economic growth and provides sustainable employment for the people of Shropshire and we should not forget that most of our thriving business parks across Shropshire were born out of what would now be termed green belt land.

A sketch of what the development in Tong could look like

"Inward investment is a vital ingredient for our prosperity and will support those quality high-paid jobs our county needs.”

The latest development comes after the campaign group Shifnal Matters, which has been vocal in opposing the development, called for a report that claims nearly £400 million would be injected into the economy annually if the plans were approved to be made public.

But the Bradford Estates, which commissioned the report, responded by saying it contained “commercially sensitive” information.

Viscount Alexander Newport, managing director of the Bradford Estates

Mr Sheehan added that the environmental values of the development would also seek to boost interest in young people working in Shropshire.

He said: "While we are a business organisation, I am also very aware that facilities for people to live and work in close proximity will be an increasingly attractive proposition as climate impact of travel is high on the agenda of all, but in particular those younger talented people we seek to attract."

The development is being proposed as a solution to an unmet housing need from the Black Country.

An Urban Capacity Study published by the Association of Black Country Authorities identified a shortfall of about 26,920 homes which cannot be accommodated in the region and outlined a need to build houses in neighbouring authorities.

A decision will be made on the plans in May.

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