Preferred Sites for the Shropshire Local Plan Review

I wrote on this topic in June. A paper being presented to Shropshire Council’s Cabinet next Wednesday covers consultation on the preferred sites across the county.  If agreed, the consultation period will be from 29th November to 31st January 2019 and will provide an opportunity for local councils, residents, landowners, developers and agents to comment on the proposals. The preferred site details are in the appendix.

Some will want to comment on the preferred sites and some will want to comment on the sites that have been advanced during this process but are, for many reasons, not “preferred”. The key proposals include a new housing target for Shropshire 28,750 dwellings between 2016 and 2036. With completions, commitments and allocations already for 18,500 dwellings, a net 10,250 are required.

In Much Wenlock, according to the document, and we’ve seen these figures before, 150 dwellings are required over the twenty-year period and, with 45 under our belt already, a further 105 are required. The preferred housing site would prove 80 houses, leaving 25 to be satisfied by windfall development.

The consultation makes particular mention of the Much Wenlock Neighbourhood Plan. It says it “provides policies that supplement those in the adopted Local Plan. These policies reflect the unique character, circumstances and community aspirations in Much Wenlock. Shropshire Council is committed to continue to work with Much Wenlock Town Council to consider the need to update the Neighbourhood Plan in light of the Local Plan Review so that they can continue to work together to positively manage local development during the Local Plan Review period to 2036.”

The preferred site is 3.8ha (9.4 acres) on land adjoining the primary school and Hunters Gate with capacity for 80 dwellings. This is subject to delivery of both on and off-site flood attenuation infrastructure. Consideration is also to be given to delivery of a roundabout access off the A458. This was the site presented to Much Wenlock Town Council in September last year by Berrys. The proposed development boundary has been re-drawn and now, of course, includes the playing field between the Primary School and Hunters Gate.

Of course, there are sites within the development boundary which have been discussed in the past, especially around the time that the Neighbourhood Plan was being developed. For instance, the former Morris Corfield site, currently occupied in part by Wenlock Motors – and then there’s Travis Perkins. Years ago, this (and its predecessor) was a supplier to mainly jobbing builders who would call in to pick up materials. Nowadays it largely acts as a distribution base with artics bringing supplies in and the Travis Perkin lorries taking materials to site. This doesn’t need to be done in the middle of Much Wenlock and could easily be accommodated on the outskirts of the town. Both of these sites could provide housing and small employment units. Other amenities in the town could also relocate to one of these sites.

What isn’t mentioned in great detail in the Shropshire Council Cabinet paper is the Ironbridge Power Station site. If this delivers 1,000 to 1,500 dwellings, the impact on Much Wenlock and other communities will be significant.

Nonetheless, it is inevitable that more development will take place in Much Wenlock – somewhere – and our business community will be relying upon it. The development of our infrastructure is also reliant upon the resultant Community Infrastructure Levy.

Our Town Council will doubtless express a view about the proposed site and other matters. I suggest that you advise them of your views – by post to Corn Exchange, High Street, Much Wenlock TF13 6AE or by email.