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Traffic diversion through Much Wenlock (2)

diversion-sign1A month ago I wrote about the impact of diverted traffic on Much Wenlock. The diversion is because of Network Rail’s intention to “deliver a safety-critical upgrade” to Onibury level crossing between Ludlow and Craven Arms on the A49.

Network Rail say “Approximately 6,000 vehicles a day use this busy level crossing, connecting Leominster and Shrewsbury. This heavy usage, combined with the track layout and the interface between the road and railway mean its surface is prone to significant deterioration.” You can read more about their plans here.

The impact of these works is an extensive diversion, which will lead through the A458 in Much Wenlock.

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I have made my concerns about Much Wenlock very clear to Network Rail, Highways England and Shropshire Council. They include the impact of wide and heavy vehicles on narrow Victoria Road, the increased difficulty for pedestrians in crossing the A458 and the probability of locals, and those reliant on satnav, trying to dodge hold-ups by detouring along narrow lanes and residential streets.

Centurion Traffic Management are firming up their ancillary traffic management proposals for the county roads – which includes calming measures (“SLOW” warning signs prior to the identified pinch point plus “ONCOMING VEHICLES IN CENTRE OF ROAD” or similar – and “ACCESS ONLY” warning signs at the Wigwig/Homer access junctions) on the A458 and A4169. Hopefully there will be further measures to prevent traffic rat-running through the town especially during the rush hour.

This week, a further concern has arisen. A couple of years ago, the A458 Harley Hill/Bank was resurfaced following a fatal accident in 2012. My recollection is that the surface was deemed to be partially the cause of the smash. On Tuesday this week we had a car overturn and a motorcycle collide with a car in two separate incidents in the same spot.
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I have therefore requested that a survey be conducted to ensure that there is no latent problem with the road that might prove hazardous to the increased volume of traffic that is expected. image1 (17)

The works are due to commence 1st July for the 10 day period. Meanwhile the planned works on the Bridgnorth by-pass have been put back by a week to avoid a clash.

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

Much Wenlock’s flood alleviation measures in focus

On 25th April the English Severn and Wye Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC) held its regular meeting – this time in Much Wenlock. I was pleased to be able to welcome the committee members to our splendid Guildhall and our visitors pronounced that they were impressed with their surroundings – “grand setting”, “most picturesque meeting venue” etc.


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The RFCC brings together members appointed by Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) and independent members with relevant experience to:

  • Ensure there are coherent plans for identifying, communicating and managing flood and coastal erosion risks across catchments and shorelines;
  • Promote efficient, targeted and risk-based investment in flood and coastal erosion risk management that optimises value for money and benefits for local communities;
  • Provide a link between the Environment Agency, LLFAs, other risk management authorities and other relevant bodies to engender mutual understanding of flood and coastal erosion risks in its area.

Once the formal meeting was over, the visitors were given a short presentation about Much Wenlock‘s flood history and the measures currently underway to alleviate surface water flooding. It seems a long time since I was chairing the Town Council’s Flood Management Working Group when we managed to get Shropshire Council, the Environment Agency, Severn Trent Water and our Member of Parliament, Philip Dunne, around a table – in the very same Guildhall. That was in 2010 and an Integrated Urban Drainage Management Plan was subsequently created. The delegates then left the historic splendour of the Guildhall and donned hard hats and hi-vis jackets at Stretton Road to view the construction.

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The scale of the works is impressive and the pre-cast outfall headwall to the inlet channel has been installed. The base slab for the main outfall structure has been poured in concrete, and works on constructing the walls is now ongoing.

Work is also in progress to drain the water from Stretton Road into the new pool.
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The wheel wash is keeping the local roads as clean as possible, given the nature of the task and safe management of the site is clearly of paramount importance.

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Meanwhile at The Sytche, similar works are taking place, albeit on a smaller scale.

I hope that, as the works reach their conclusion, the Environment Agency and Shropshire Council will feel able to have a residents’ open day to explain how this £2m scheme will go a long way towards alleviating surface and pluvial flooding in Much Wenlock.

Much Wenlock Leisure Centre

Shropshire Council is consulting on its “Draft Indoor Leisure Facilities Strategy for Shropshire – 2017 to 2022“. The consultation is open until 8th May and all are welcome to take part.

Much Wenlock Leisure Centre, along with Idsall Sports Centre, Shifnal and Roman Road Sports Centre, Shrewsbury, is currently managed by Shropshire Council. The other 21 facilities in Shropshire are managed by schools and other organisations.

The Much Wenlock Leisure Centre will be the subject of separate management arrangements and there will be further local consultation in due course.

Local elections on 4th May

On 5th April, Shropshire Council published details of the candidates for elections to be held on 4th May.

So far as Shropshire Council elections are concerned, I was surprised to learn that I am the only candidate for the Much Wenlock division. As such, this is the only seat out of 74 across the authority not to be contested. So, come 4th May, I will have been elected uncontested as the Conservative candidate for Much Wenlock division.IMG_0492

As regards town and parish council elections, the following is the position in the Much Wenlock division.

Barrow Parish Council (five members)

Current Parish Councillors Nick Downes, Philip Knott and Milner Whiteman have been nominated. Long-serving parish councillors Shirley King and Sally Gibbon are standing down. Anne Skinner from Linley and Steven Churchill from Benthall have been nominated. Given that the number of nominations equals the complement of the parish council, there will be no election.

Broseley Town Council, Broseley Wood ward (one member)

Current Town Councillor Andy Cooke is standing down and Gavin Goodall, who has recently moved to Shropshire, has been nominated. Given that he is unopposed, there will be no election.

Easthope, Shipton & Stanton Long Parish Council, Easthope ward (two members)

Current Parish Councillors Robin Gibson and Bob Seaward are standing down. No nominations have been received, so the Parish Council will co-opt for this ward.

Easthope, Shipton & Stanton Long Parish Council, Shipton ward (two members)

Current Parish Councillors Simon Brown and Brian Williams have been nominated. Given that the number of nominations equals the complement of the ward, there will be no election.

Easthope, Shipton & Stanton Long Parish Council, Stanton Long ward (three members)

Current Parish Councillors Mike Belshaw, Keith Jones and Jonathan Taylor have been nominated. Given that the number of nominations equals the complement of the ward, there will be no election.

Much Wenlock Town Council (eleven members)

Current Town Councillors Robin Bennett, Mike Grace, Paul Laming, Joffrey Watson and I are standing down and Graham Edgcumbe-Venning, Bert Harper, Mary Hill, Yvonne Holyoak, Dafydd Jenkins and Milner Whiteman OBE are standing again. New candidates standing are Trevor Childs, former town mayor David Gibbon, Robert Toft and Michael Walter. There is one nomination short of the full complement, so the Town Council will co-opt.

Pinefield – 40 High Street, Much Wenlock

On 9th March I wrote here about a listed building application that had been lodged with Shropshire Council. I described myself as being “cautiously pleased” to see the application which aimed to carry out repairs, reinstatements and minor alterations to the historic Pinefield. I was cautious because I hadn’t seen the associated planning application for enabling development on the backland.

Today I’ve been notified that an application, reference number 17/00998/FUL, has been lodged with Shropshire Council seeking to erect “1no detached dwelling with garage, repair of existing outbuilding in close proximity and erection of 2no semi detached dwellings with attached 3bay garage”. A quick glance at the site layout indicates that the scheme appears to be far better laid out and less imposing than the previous application for four dwellings.

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The very helpful aerial site perspective provided by the applicants certainly seems more sympathetic to its setting in the curtilage of the listed building, and to the conservation area. I remain concerned that the garden area remaining with Pinefield appears inadequate for such an imposing property, and when it is refurbished and, hopefully, occupied it is likely that the residents will have cars. No vehicular access is shown and even if a driveway is formed, parking and garaging will consume a large part of this garden space.Fullscreen capture 31-Mar-17 80443 PMNonetheless, this is a step in the right direction and I welcome the progress. Doubtless local residents will take time to consider their opinion of the proposals. In view of the historic importance of Pinefield, its setting in the conservation area and my concerns about vehicular access and egress on the busy A458, I have requested that both applications are determined by Shropshire Council’s South Planning Committee.

Local elections – May 2017

The town and parish councils and Shropshire Council are up for election on 4th May. Much Wenlock Town Council has been running a publicity drive for some months to attract folk to stand for this most local form of democracy. This is your opportunity to make a positive difference in the town; hopefully someone from Bourton and Homer will step forward to provide a stronger voice for their villages.ballot paper

After serving Much Wenlock and the surrounding area for four years as your Shropshire Councillor I now intend standing again as the Conservative candidate. I have found the role fulfilling and I’ve met more lovely folk, many of whom I’ve been able to help with their problems. It is however time-consuming and, from time to time, challenging. If any potential candidate would like to discuss what’s involved, they’re more than welcome to pick up the phone or meet me at my next advice surgery. Some weeks ago I wrote a short piece about my week as a Shropshire Councillor, which you can read online here.

Details on how to stand for election as a councillor are here.

Pinefield – 40 High Street, Much Wenlock

I have written about this site previously – in August 2015, October 2015 and July 2016, when a Section 215 notice was served by Shropshire Council. This required the owners to carry out urgent works to the building to make it safe.

Pinefield

Pinefield – 40 High Street, Much Wenlock

This followed much local concern about the integrity of this important and high-profile Grade II listed building for many years. Over the past few weeks, there have been alarming reports about glass falling from the rotting window frames. I am therefore cautiously pleased to note that a Listed Building Application has been received by Shropshire Council which includes “repairs, reinstatements and minor alterations affecting a Grade II Listed Building to include repair and renewal of roof coverings, rainwater goods, external render, doors, windows and interiors “. The planning application may be seen herethe Design, Access & Heritage Impact statement for repairs and alterations to Pinefield sets out a comprehensive appraisal of the developer’s challenge.

My caution is because the application says “….this application is closely linked with the planning application for the erection of 3no traditional dwellings on land to the rear of No40 itself.” The planning application has not yet appeared on Shropshire Council’s website and the two proposals must be viewed alongside each other to ensure that any enabling residential development is appropriate. Pinefield’s refurbishment must not be achieved at the expense of poor design or overbearing development.

 

 

 

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.