D-day over Shropshire Council plans for 30,000 homes

Shropshire councillors are today set to approve a vital stage of one of the most important and controversial documents in the county's recent history – setting out where more than 30,000 homes will be built in the next 18 years.

Shropshire Council's updated local plan will shape the future of the county's towns and villages, and has been three years in the making. It has sparked controversy and acrimony over proposals for where houses and new business developments will be built.

At today's meeting of the authority's cabinet, councillors are expected to approve the latest stage of the plan – which will then be subject to a final consultation before submission to the Government.

The proposals include developments for nearly all towns and villages across the county, and while some controversial sites have been included, others such as plans for a 3,000-home garden village on Green Belt land off Junction 3 of the M54 have been dropped.

It also includes major plans for the former Ironbridge Power Station, and Tern Hill Barracks.

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Council leader, Councillor Peter Nutting, said it had been a difficult balancing act, weighing the demand for housing against the desire to protect sites.

He said: "The numbers may seem quite large but it is supposed to last for the next 18 years.

"There has got to be housing in Shropshire. We have got to house our young people and the government expects us to provide housing, it is about trying to provide the right balance, which I believe we have done."

Councillor Nutting said the document was vital to ensure that developers are not allowed to build wherever they want.

He said: "It is important that we do get a document through, because we do not want to be in a situation we were a few years ago where we did not have a five-year land supply and we did not have control over developments."

Threatened

A number of high profile sites are still attracting opposition, with a group of Bridgnorth councillors having threatened to vote against the plan when it goes before full council, over their anger about proposals for housing developer Taylor Wimpey to create a 1,050-home garden village at Tasley.

That proposal replaced Shropshire Council's favoured earlier option of a garden village at Stanmore on the other side of the town.

Shifnal campaign group Shifnal Matters has also been vocal in its opposition to plans to develop the town.

Spokesman Zoe Turner said they had significant concerns about the plans, particularly for the Lodge Hill area, which would narrow the gap between the town and Telford.

She said: “Inclusion of this area in the Shropshire Local Plan Review not only goes against national planning and policy framework but would be a devastating loss to the residents of Shifnal who have found this space a welcome relief throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

"There are a number of walks that are well used both through and around Lodgehill that would be lost if this development was to go ahead. This cannot be allowed to happen."

As part of the proposal, Shropshire Council will agree to accept more than 1,000 homes, and 30 hectares of business space for Midlands councils which say they do not have room for development

The proposal set to be agreed by cabinet includes 30 hectares of employment need from the Association of Black Country Authorities (ABCA) as well as space for 1,500 homes.

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