Council u-turns in rejecting Church Stretton housing plans

Previously approved plans for new houses to be built on the outskirts of Church Stretton have been rejected in a council u-turn.

Council u-turns in rejecting Church Stretton housing plans

Members of Shropshire Council’s southern planning committee approved the application for five homes earlier this year, but have now withdrawn support after strong objections were made from community groups.

Planning officers had said the proposals should be rejected as the site, near Springbank Farm, lies outside the town’s development boundary. But councillors went against this and granted permission on the basis that the town has a shortage of housing.

It meant the application had to be re-advertised as a departure from the development plan and come back to the committee for a final decision.

During this time, objections were received from the Save Snatchfield Group, All Stretton Village Society (ASVS), Clive Avenue Residents’ Association and Stretton Civic Society.

In a statement read to the committee, Jim Bunce, on behalf of Save Snatchfield and ASVS, said: “The Springbank Farm proposal is for open market homes outside of the development boundary, on land confirmed as ‘countryside’ for planning purposes, and in the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).”

Mr Bunce said the proposal was in conflict with numerous local and national planning policies and would set a precedent which could open the floodgates to an influx of similar applications.

Benefits

A statement was also read out from Stuart Thomas from Berrys, agent to the applicant, who said the development would provide much-needed homes close to good transport links and community facilities, and would not cause harm to the sensitive setting of the AONB.

He said the conflict with the development plan was “outweighed” by the benefits of the scheme.

Mr Thomas added: “I can see no reason whatsoever why the committee should not simply ratify its previous decision to approve the application. Doing so would not set any form of undesirable precedent or risk for the council.

“Clear and convincing planning reasons for approval against officers’ recommendation have already been provided and there are now no material planning issues raised within the letters of objection which would alter this decision.”

The committee also heard that Church Stretton Town Council and the town’s two Shropshire councillors, David Evans and Lee Chapman, remained in support of the development.

However members of the committee were unconvinced.

Councillor Andy Boddington said: “I am concerned about this application, as I was last time, that we are developing in a way that will eventually join up Church Stretton and All Stretton.

“Although it’s argued there’s a shortage of housing supply against targets not yet agreed for Church Stretton, I don’t think we should do ad-hoc planning. It never works, we need coherent planning.

“It should be down to the town council and Shropshire Council to put forward a coherent plan for the needed homes for Church Stretton.

“On that basis and that this is in the AONB and it’s against current policies, I will be voting for the officers’ recommendation (of refusal).”

The committee voted to reject the application by six votes to two, with two abstentions.

At the previous meeting in February, the committee voted by five votes to three to grant permission, with one abstention.

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