Archive for May, 2017

Traffic diversion through Much Wenlock

We’ve seen some disruption this year on Much Wenlock’s roads, mostly because of resurfacing. The overwhelming majority of local residents are tolerant of delays, noise and dirt which are the inevitable consequence of highways improvements and maintenance. Occasionally we have to bear additional diverted traffic because of roadworks elsewhere – such as when the B4380 Buildwas-Atcham road was being resurfaced a couple of years ago.

This summer there are plans that bring a rather more substantial diversion our way. The A49 at Onibury, between Ludlow and Craven Arms, is to be closed so that Network Rail can carry out essential work at the level crossing. The proposed diversion is from Ludlow to Kidderminster, then to Bridgnorth and on to Shrewsbury (and, for southbound traffic, the reverse). This inevitably means the diverted traffic driving through Much Wenlock.image6Given that the A49 is a trunk road, it is understandable that the diversion should be on roads capable of taking large volumes of heavy traffic. For the most part, the diversion route can accommodate this extra load for ten days although, given that it’s an additional 50 miles on the journey, I suspect that some drivers will try to find a short-cut. 
image1 (21)My principal concern, so far as Much Wenlock is concerned, is the narrow stretch of the A458 between the B4378 Bourton Road junction and the B4371 Stretton Road junction. Victoria Road is a pinch point, bounded by old limestone walls on both sides. The wall supporting the elevated footway is frequently struck by vehicles and evidence of the impacts is there for all to see – shards of stone and mortar on the road. For much of this 400 yard stretch, this footway is the only pedestrian route. image4 (2)Residents of Victoria Road and of Stretton Road, comprising some 70 properties, who walk into Much Wenlock already have to negotiate traffic approaching around blind bends, sometime at speeds in excess of the permitted limit. The only way to cross over is via a central refuge in Victoria Road. Of course visitors to our local campsites will have to use this route as well when heading into the town for a meal or drink, or to take in the sights.image5Adding considerably more traffic, day and night, will increase the risks for local pedestrians and visitors to our town this summer. These photographs were taken in the space of five minutes mid-morning today. The morning and evening rush-hour sees far more traffic.image2 (8)-001Vehicles heading in both directions will have to negotiate Wenlock Edge. Heading from Shrewsbury, this an especially challenging incline for heavy vehicles and those towing trailer and caravans. An increase in the volume of traffic will see more instances of hill starts when traffic has come to a halt. And this brings me to another concern.

Driving from Cressage toward Much Wenlock along the A458, it is possible to see if the traffic is at a halt at the bottom of the incline from a long distance. If it is, the temptation is to turn off at Wig Wig and try to get ahead of the blockage. This single-track lane is unsuitable for more than the occasional car or tractor and certainly hazardous for a large vehicle which would have to negotiate the ford and the tight bends. Any use of this as a cut-through would be a major inconvenience to the local residents and an added frustration for drivers who shouldn’t be using the route.homer wigwigI’ve aired my concerns with the hard-pressed highways team who have to juggle essential maintenance by Network Rail, the Highways Agency and our own Shropshire Council Highways department, along with the various electricity, water, gas and telephone undertakings. They understand my concerns – and mine aren’t the only ones. As a result, a meeting is being arranged to re-examine all of the options and consider what traffic management measures might ease the load for local residents and for all motorists. I’m hoping that, by bringing all parties together, we can look forward to a less congested Victoria Road than might otherwise be the case.image1 (20)

Ironbridge Power Station (2)

I wrote recently about the closure of Ironbridge Power Station.

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A number of stakeholders met in February to discuss the future of the site with the owners, Uniper. I was among them, given the proximity of the site to Much Wenlock. Also present was Ironbridge representative, Telford & Wrekin’s Cllr Nicola Lowery, and Shropshire Cllr Claire Wild, in whose electoral division the power station is situated.

There were some challenging questions for the Uniper executives. The power station was the single biggest business rate payer in the Shropshire Council area. The site is adjacent to the Ironbridge Gorge and that offers great opportunity but also some significant challenges as reported by the Shropshire Star.

Now all the talk is beginning to turn into reality with an “Application for prior notification under Schedule 2 Part 11 of the Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 for the demolition of Ironbridge power station conveyors 6 and 7 and associated structures”. Details can be found here on Shropshire Council’s website. The demolition area is circled in red on these photographs.

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The covering letter from Uniper says that the “demolition work of conveyors and associated structures is intended to commence in Q3 2017. It is anticipated that the demolition will take approximately 10 weeks”. It goes on to detail measures it is taking to deal with dust, noise and vibration, ecology, waste management and – most important for Much Wenlock – transport. I was relieved to read that:

“Primary access and egress routes to the site will be via the existing agreed HGV routes detailed below:

1. Traffic exiting the M54 at junction 4 will take the A454 (W), A4169 (Queensway, W), A4169 (Buildwas Bank, S) and Buildwas Road.
2. Traffic exiting the M54 at junction 6 will take the A5223 (S), A4169 (S) and Buildwas Road.”

Traffic will clearly have an impact on local occupiers, and in Buildwas Road in particular. Whilst this provides detail of primary routes, I remain cautious that this description does not leave the way clear for secondary routes to use the ancient and narrow Sheinton Street in Much Wenlock’s conservation area that carries the A4169 southwards. I shall be watching this closely.Fullscreen capture 20-May-17 23919 PM

With an estimated 360 tonnes of waste material to be removed from site over the duration of the works, 250 tonnes of which is metal, clearly the impact will be significant. It is, of course, necessary to carry out this work in order that the site can be sold and re-used but, given the relatively small area affected by these works, it is an indication of the enormous challenge that clearing the remainder of the site will entail.

NB: Shropshire Council’s website indicates: “This notifies the Council of proposed work or development not needing its permission. The Council will not be approving or refusing the proposal, so comments are not invited.”

 

Swan & Falcon Inn

 

The Swan & Falcon Inn, more recently occupied by Barclays Bank, has been empty for some months. There has been much local concern since planning enforcement action resulted in a neighbouring part-built property at 26 Falcons Court in Much Wenlock’s High street being demolished some years ago. An appeal to the planning inspector to approve the development was dismissed [1] in September 2010 on a number of grounds including the character and appearance of the Much Wenlock Conservation Area, the effect upon neighbouring occupiers, the scale of the development and the materials used.

Following the demolition of the newly-built property, the site was sold to the owners of the former bank building. Subsequent planning applications for the building and the empty site have been lodged but have failed to meet with approval. The site has lain empty for some years and there has been further concern about the visual impact on the town.

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So I welcome the fact that there’s been a re-submission, omitting the developments to the side and rear, and retaining the willow tree on the back land. The details are contained in the planning application [2] and the listed building application [3]. While there will doubtless be comments on the proposals, at first glance the proposal seems to address many of the previous objections raised by local residents.

15 High Street Much Wenlock - proposed front elevation

15 High Street Much Wenlock – proposed front elevation

[1] Appeal decision

[2] Planning application

[3] Listed building application

David Turner


Woodhouse Farm
Wyke
Much Wenlock
TF13 6NZ

01952 728802

david.turner@shropshire.gov.uk
Shropshire Council
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The views expressed on this website are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Conservative Councillors' Association or the Conservative Party.