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Shropshire power station housing development approved ‘before policies were in place’ – local plan hearing told

A collage tower at Ironbridge Power Station being demolished

Shropshire Council says the situation is not unusual, but opponents say there is not enough money set aside under these policies to alleviate health service problems or congestion local roads.

Hearings into Shropshire’s draft local plan this week have heard that a final deal has yet to be reached on Harworth Group’s development in Ironbridge, around 10 months after councilors controversially granted permission Last year.

But the audience heard that a final decision letter giving the final go-ahead is about to be released.

Planning councilors voted 6-4 to grant permission for the new community which will also see a school, commercial premises and leisure facilities built on the 350-acre site at Buildwas.

The Department of Leveling, Housing and Communities rejected a request to appeal the plan on October 21.

Opponents maintain pressure on the council regarding the effectiveness of its planning policies.

Councilor Duncan White, Mayor of Much Wenlock, said: ‘This plan does not effectively identify or cost an adequate level of infrastructure changes appropriate to the plan.

He said £350,000 for traffic changes was “not enough”, particularly to alleviate problems at the Gaskell Corner bottleneck.

Councilor Dan Thomas of Much Wenlock Town Council and former Shropshire Councilor David Turner also questioned whether enough was being done for transport and health care issues.

Mr Thomas questioned the accuracy of the traffic modeling and said there was not enough for bus services, roads or health services. He said local medical practices were already over capacity.

Steve Lewis-Roberts, speaking on behalf of the site developer, said £913.00 had been agreed with the clinical commissioning group for local health services. The meeting learned that the money would not go to an “on-site” health facility but to finance an “external” service.

Daniel Corden, who focuses on housing policy at Shropshire Council, said that they were reviewing policy after the proposal was “not the usual order of things, but it happens in some cases”.

He said all issues were considered as part of the development application process and added: ‘We consider these issues to have been appropriately considered during the development application process.

Town planning inspector Carole Dillon asked council to clarify if planning permission had not yet been granted, “how effective will this policy be in dealing with the kinds of concerns we have heard ?”

Mr Corden said the council considered the guidelines had been met, but added they would ‘go away and look at the explanatory material’.

Eddie West, the council’s planning officer, said he believed the planning process provided “effective mechanisms for issues to be dealt with effectively”. And he added that under these circumstances it was “a pretty good example of how the system works”.

He believes that the sums requested from the promoters provided a “fair and equitable figure”.

The council has also responded to criticism and queries at its other strategic sites, at Clive Barracks, Tern Hill and RAF Cosford where it is proposed to remove land from the greenbelt.

The sites are predicted to make a huge contribution to the county’s housing needs through 2038 and beyond.

Planning inspectors are closely scrutinizing council policies at local plan hearings taking place this week. The review should later move on to reviewing individual sites.