Ironbridge Power Station – masterplan consultation

Harworth, the developers of the Ironbridge Power Station site held a stakeholders’ event this morning to look at the emerging masterplan for the site.

The whole of the design team were said to be on site, including minerals specialist and highways consultants. Those attending included representatives from Shropshire Council’s economic development team, William Brookes School, Priorslee and Buildwas Academy Trust, the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, Severn Gorge Countryside Trust and Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Broseley Town Council, Buildwas Parish Council and Leighton & Eaton Constantine Parish Council were also present along with Shropshire Councillors Claire Wild, Simon Harris and myself, together representing the Severn Valley, Broseley and Much Wenlock divisions.

Stuart Ashton, the Head of Planning for Harworth reminded us that on 11th October a community consultation event took place which attracted 500 attendees. The biggest concerns expressed at that point were (in order)

  1. Rail
  2. Highways
  3. Footpaths
  4. Services
  5. Leisure needs
  6. Sports needs

It was interesting to note the slide said that the development would involve high-quality design, influence by Much Wenlock and that there would be a “garden village” approach.

In terms of social housing Harworth had been speaking to Housing Plus Group, Connexus and Wrekin Housing. The developers intend to retain the existing sports facilities on the site.

The four key issues upon which everything else depends are:

  1. The demolition program is starting this month and is expected to take 27 months. The iconic cooling towers are expected to be demolished in early 2020. I think I heard correctly that each of them contains 3,000 tons of asbestos. Clearly this is a very specialist operation.
  2. Rail – the Albert Edward rail bridge is to be strengthened, initially to take freight (PFA and minerals) off the site, and thereafter to carry passengers. Apparently very positive conversations have been held with Network Rail.
  3. There are 850,000 tons of pulverised fuel ash to be removed from the site. Trains will be running for 2 to 3 years to remove it.
  4. Sand and gravel – the Buildwas quarry is a safeguarded mineral site, vital for development in the West Midlands. Harworth are holding talks with owners JPE to acquire the site. There are between 1 and 2 million tons of material to be quarried, and that will leave the site by rail.

Despite there being around 440,000 volts running through the site there is evidently insufficient power to sustain development! Another challenge.

Vehicular access will be via the main bridge on the Ironbridge Road and by two new road junctions onto the A4169 Much Wenlock Road.

In terms of phasing, housing downstream of the main access bridge will be developed first, while the simultaneous sand and gravel extraction will be a five year project.

Harworth expect to finalise the masterplan following the comments from stakeholders and members of the public. Two planning applications will be submitted to Shropshire Council at the end of September 2019  – the first for mixed-use, and the second for minerals extraction.

This afternoon (22nd May 2019) from 2pm the doors are open for you to go to the Power Station to look at the proposals and ask the consultants and experts questions. It’s a lovely sunny day, and the open session lasts until 7pm.

You can view the masterplan and comment on the proposals at www.ironbridgeregeneration.co.uk. I have also obtained forms which are being placed in Much Wenlock and Broseley libraries in the next few hours. The deadline for comments is 14th June 2019. Of course, when the planning applications are submitted later this year, you’ll be able to comment again.

This summary has been composed in about 45 minutes since I returned from the power station site, so apologies for any inaccuracies or imbalance!