Blueprints for 30,800 new homes and 740 acres of employment land across Shropshire will go to public consultation for a fifth time, after a cabinet member’s last-minute change of plan was approved.
Originally, Shropshire Council officers recommended moving the draft Shropshire Local Plan Review to a formal “regulation 19” stage which would involve the public but, as leader Peter Nutting explained, “is a stricter phase about procedure”.
Instead, cabinet member Rob Macey proposed another “regulation 18” consultation, which will give residents, councillors and town and parish councils more chance to shape the details.
Whitchurch North councillor Thomas Biggins and Oswestry South councillor Paul Milner were among members who addressed the cabinet asking for sites in their constituencies to be removed from consideration for development.
Cllr Biggins said the Chester Road area had been “saturated” and called for it to be “given a break”, while Cllr Milner said a 30-home site would deprive Oswestry of parkland and abut its conservation area.
A report by Mark Barrow, Shropshire Council’s executive director of place, said four stages of Local Plan consultation had taken place since the review process began in 2017.
Regulation 19 consultation would have invited the public and other stakeholders to “consider whether the pre-submission version of the Local Plan is ‘sound’, based upon a set of nationally-prescribed criteria”.
Agreeing with planning portfolio holder Cllr Macey’s proposal to add a fifth regulation 18 stage, Cllr Nutting told councillors: “We’re going back so you can feed in whatever you like. It’s not so much about process.
“It’s about the sites and will give you the opportunity to talk to and feed into the officers.”
Cllr Biggins asked for land north of Chester Road, Whitchurch, earmarked for 200 dwellings in the draft plan, to be taken out and the development boundary to stay where it is.
“There are a number of reasons for this,” he said. “The Chester Road area has been saturated with new housing as a result of the failure of Shropshire Council to have an adequate housing land supply a few years ago.”
This, he said, led to some homes being developed outside of the Local Plan as it existed then.
He said there was a risk of Tarporley Road and Chester Road “joining together in an urban mass, destroying the character of the area”.
“This part of town really does need a rest during the period of the next local plan,” he said.
Cllr Milner asked for a site Trefonen Road, Oswestry, to be removed. It is earmarked for 30 homes and lies in the “non-designated historic parkland of Broom Hall Park”, the draft plan says.
It adds that “whilst the site is not in flood zones two and/or three”, flooding on adjacent land obliges would-be developers to provide enhanced and sustainable drainage. Cllr Milner said this was a concern.
“It is also a site that is parkland, and it is just outside the conservation area,” he added.
Mr Barrow’s report said the 342-page plan named Shrewsbury as the “strategic centre” of the county “and the primary focus for new development”, with “approximately 8,625 new dwellings and around 100 hectares of employment land made available”.
Oswestry, Bridgnorth, Whitchurch, Market Drayton and Ludlow are named as “principal centres” and earmarked for approximately 1,900, 1,800, 1,600, 1,200, 1,000 homes respectively and 57, 49, 20, 35 and 11 hectares of employment land respectively.
The Bridgnorth proposals include a 1,050-home “garden village” at Tasley, in Bridgnorth.
“Employment land will be located in a gateway location on the site and be of a high-quality design and layout,” the draft plan says.
“The village centre will comprise an appropriate range of retail and community uses, including a community centre.”
Approximately five acres will be set aside for a new primary school, and a medical centre will be provided if Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group requires it, the draft plan adds.