New A5 services on route into Shrewsbury narrowly approved

A new service station will be built next to the A5 on a main route into Shrewsbury after plans were narrowly voted through.

The Churncote roundabout
The Churncote roundabout

Critics had voiced concerns over traffic and said it was a missed opportunity to create a ‘striking gateway’ to the town, next to Churncote Island on Welshpool Road.

But they failed to persuade Shropshire Council’s northern planning committee to refuse the scheme.

Members did however come close to deferring the application for a second time, having already put off making a decision at a previous meeting in April, saying they were still not confident with the information provided.

Ultimately only three councillors voted to grant permission – but it was enough, with just one vote against and five abstentions.

The site will feature a petrol station and a drive-through coffee shop, while the applicant, EG Group, has also promised to commission a piece of artwork on the corner of the site facing the roundabout and create a wildflower meadow.

Planning officer Mike Davies told the committee: “The applicant has made strides to address the previous concerns as far as they are able, and the recommendation is to grant permission subject to conditions.”

Mr Davies said one of the matters that had been raised at the April meeting was the question of whether the applicant’s offer of £80,000 towards the proposed North West Relief Road was adequate.

Officers explained the figure was arrived at because the site was allocated for employment in the masterplan for the Shrewsbury West Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE), with a contribution set at £177,000 when the masterplan obtained outline planning permission in 2014.

A report to councillors said the current offer was based on the fact that the application only covered a portion of the site, and had not been adjusted to account for inflation in the intervening years.

Updating the committee at Tuesday’s meeting, Mr Davies said the applicant had now agreed to the principle of the contribution being linked to inflation.

However this was denied by the applicant’s planning agent Mike Sproston, who said the company was standing by its offer of £80,000.

Peter Hanson, clerk to Bicton Parish Council, spoke at the meeting against the development. He said the SUE masterplan set out ambitions for the site to be a “striking gateway” to the town, which a “commonplace service station” could never be.

A statement was also read to the committee by Emma Bullard from Better Shrewsbury Transport, who said: “Either the North West Road goes ahead, and there is a big increase in traffic levels and high demand for these services, in which case the access is unsafe, or the North West Road is refused and traffic levels are lower, in which case the services are not needed. In either case this application should be turned down.”

Councillor Mike Isherwood said he was concerned that the agent’s stance on the North West Relief Road contribution was in contrast to the information presented by the planning officers.

This was echoed by Councillor Vince Hunt, who said: “I have a concern now as a result of the applicant’s agent and the surprised look on officers’ faces. If that’s a surprise to officers now, what else is in [the report] that might not be correct?”

Councillor Geoff Elner proposed deferring the application again, saying: “I don’t think it’s an acceptable suggestion to make a decision based on something we don’t believe to be factual.”

Councillor Nat Green added: “I think when we have got such an important and visible site we need to get it right.”

However the proposal fell with four votes for and five against.

A proposal from Councillor Mark Jones to grant permission was then voted through despite five abstentions.

The development will create 21 full-time equivalent jobs.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News