Preferred Sites for the Shropshire Local Plan Review – Much Wenlock

Shropshire Council has a duty to maintain an up to date development plan. As I wrote a few weeks ago, and in April, the current stage is consulting on its “preferred sites”. Failure to maintain an up to date plan has a number of unattractive consequences, including having few grounds upon which to resist speculative development.

This consultation is now open for you to comment and Shropshire Council describes it thus:

  • “Outlines a housing policy direction to improve the delivery of local housing needs;
  • Establishes development guidelines and development boundaries for Shrewsbury, the Principal and Key Centres and each proposed Community Hub and;
  • Sets out the preferred sites to deliver the preferred scale and distribution of housing and employment growth during the period 2016 to 2036.”

So far as Much Wenlock is concerned, it forms the “Key Centre” in the Much Wenlock Place Plan area. Also included in the Place Plan is the proposed Community Hub of Cressage; and numerous smaller villages and hamlets, of which Buildwas has opted in as a Community Cluster.

So, concentrating on Much Wenlock, Shropshire Council’s preferred site under consultation is a 3.8ha site with a capacity of approximately 80 dwelling between Hunters Gate and Much Wenlock Primary School on the A458 Bridgnorth Road. The proposals for Much Wenlock are here. This is the only site proposed and you will see that it is outside the current development boundary. The proposal would see the development boundary extended at this point.

I have a number of thoughts about this site and the possible alternatives. I do intend to submit a response to the consultation in due course. Before doing so, I look forward to learning your views on the proposals, and on other ways in which the required housing numbers might be delivered. I will share with you just three thoughts at present.

First, that there are a number of brownfield sites around the town, and within the existing development boundary, which might be suitable for housing development. If the Hunters Gate extension finds favour, how would further development elsewhere in the town be limited? The streets are full of cars at present, the medical practice is at full stretch and the schools are close to capacity. There is probably enough brownfield land to provide 80 dwellings already – if the landowners wished to build and planning consent was forthcoming. Shropshire Council concedes (by implication) that we don’t need another 160 dwellings.

Second, Much Wenlock has a Neighbourhood Development Plan. The housing policies give a clear expectation as to the scale and style of development.

Third, Ironbridge Power Station and the surrounding land will probably be the subject of a planning application during 2019. The scale of housing development isn’t known, but it is likely to exceed 1,000 units. There is an expectation that supportive infrastructure will in due course be built, but a development of this scale in the foreseeable future is likely to have a marked impact on surrounding communities. I have written about this site on a number of occasions. The development is not taken into account to any significant extent in the consultation document.

The consultation is open until 31st January 2019. Responses may be provided using this form and additional sheets if necessary. I anticipate that, in Much Wenlock, residents, landowners, developers, agents and the Town Council will respond.

The Town Council’s meeting on 6th December will “consider a recommendation from members of the Planning & Environment Committee to hold an extraordinary full Council meeting on Thursday, 17 January 2019 to review the consultation document”. You may therefore wish to ensure that the Town Council is aware of your views on the site allocation proposed for Much Wenlock before mid-January. Normally the Town Council will allow members of the public to speak on matters on the agenda, but you need to register with the Town Clerk in writing before the meeting. Whether or not you wish to speak, I suggest that you address your concerns in writing not only to Shropshire Council, but also to the Town Council by email or by snail-mail: Corn Exchange, 62 High Street, Much Wenlock TF13 6AE.

As I mention above, and in my previous article, I’d be pleased to know what your thoughts are. I welcome emails and letters – addressed to me at Woodhouse Farm, Wyke, Much Wenlock TF13 6NZ. If you’d like to discuss the proposals, I’m happy to meet any time – including at my next advice surgery at Much Wenlock Museum on Saturday 12th January.

Note that Barrow, Brockton, Easthope, Shipton and Stanton Long are not included in the list of proposed Community Hubs or Community Clusters, and this means that these parishes will be ‘countryside’ for planning policy purposes, where new development is strictly controlled in accordance with national and local planning policies. The preferred sites for Broseley do not include the Broseley Wood ward which also forms part of my Much Wenlock Division of Shropshire Council.