REVIEW OF SHROPSHIRE COUNCIL'S LOCAL PLAN
Thank you to all who took part in Shropshire Council’s latest consultation which ended on 9th September 2019. The most controversial part of that consultation is the Bradford Estate scheme for a large settlement in the middle of Shropshire's Green Belt. Whether it gets the green light is partly dependent on the "duty to co-operate" with the Black Country, which says it has "unmet need" which it has to off-load to neighbouring Local Authorities under this duty to co-operate. Shropshire Council seems to accept this situation, whereas other Authorities are slower to play ball. The Association of Black Country Authorities (ABCA) and the Bradford Estate both of course also made submissions for this consultation and Shropshire Council has made them available to us. They are documents which the people affected by these proposals are keen to see, but neither Shropshire Council nor the Bradford Estate team have chosen to publish them publicly. These documents (some of which are very large) can however be downloaded below as follows:
Bradford Rural Estates Ltd submission: over 1,800 pages of documents were submitted which we are splitting up in order to post in stages onto this website. The main submission (1,190 pages) is so long partly because it contains a lot of technical appendices, including over 600 page of utilities maps. The main text is less than 60 pages long.
Appendix 4 Archaeology Assessment
Appendix 5 Extended Phase I Habitat Report
Appendix 6 Transport Strategy
Appendix 7 Flood Risk & Surface Water Drainage Strategy
Appendix 8 Land Quality Technical Briefing Note
Appendix 9 Utilities Statement
Development Principles (86 pages, 50MB)
Heritage Gazetteer (369 pages, 14MB)
Initial Heritage Impact Assessment (69 pages, 7MB)
Landscape & Visual Appraisal (LVA) and Capacity Study (83 pages, 24MB)
Our own response (5.6MB) to the latest consultation incorporated some of your ideas. We accept the principle of re-developing the brownfield sites at the three so-called Strategic Sites of Tern Hill, Ironbridge Power Station and RAF Cosford, albeit with some caveats. But we and many others strongly oppose the Bradford Estate idea of large scale development in the Green Belt near Tong just north of Junction 3 of the M54. We commissioned a report (included in our response) which shows that this J3/Green Belt idea cannot be justified, quite apart from the chaotic way in which its plans are emerging. Read our full response (5.6MB) for the detail.
Anyone interested in the future of Shropshire’s countryside and rural settlements should be aware of just what is being proposed in Shropshire Council’s Local Plan Review (a long process, see below). We think that:
Its targets are too high
Its plans for growth are not sustainable
The process is undemocratic
It still won’t get enough affordable housing built
You can read more about this in our submissions to the three earlier stages of consultation (see below).
The 3rd consultation (Preferred Sites) revealed just where Shropshire Council wanted to put all this housing and employment land, and people didn’t like it. There were 3,600 responses which on average were 2:1 against the allocations. Our own submission is here. It is lengthy, but does have a 2-page summary!
People around Bridgnorth and Shifnal are especially incensed about plans to eat into the Green Belt.
The 1st consultation (Issues and Options) offered three levels of housing growth. 50% more respondents preferred the lowest option than the highest option. But Shropshire Council has plumped for the highest option. See here for our response to this 1st consultation. The 2nd consultation (Preferred Options) set out levels of growth for each main settlement. Our 66-page (850kb) response to this consultation can be downloaded here.
Shropshire Council kindly gave us access to the data from these first two consultations. We were able to re-analyse the data, with stark results. The electorate are overwhelmingly against the Council’s high housing targets. It is only the development sector, and the Council, that want them. We think that the Council should take proper note of this, and opt for lower targets.
Even with all these consultations we are only about half-way through the process, after over two years. The next stage is expected to be in March 2020 when the full Draft Plan will be open for a minimum 6 weeks consultation. That then goes before a Government Inspector in a process which might last a year. The revised plan is not expected to be adopted until Autumn 2021.
Economic Growth Strategy
The Council has a stated ‘growth culture’ and wants to ‘achieve maximum economic productivity’. There was no reference to sustainability in the consultation documents. We have serious misgivings about this ‘growth, growth, growth’ culture, which is so obviously unsustainable in the long term. There must be more emphasis on addressing the effects of climate change too. Shropshire Council’s recent declaration of a Climate Emergency will not in practice do this: they still think they can carry on with growth as usual.
The consultation on the draft EGS clashed with the first stage of the Local Plan Review, and we felt obliged to question the validity of the whole process surrounding this EGS consultation. The Council received only 68 responses, having sent out to over 4,000 contacts. Does that really constitute an adequate consultation?
Shropshire Council's Final Economic Growth Strategy (July 2017) is here.
The Council wants Shropshire to be “the best place to do business and invest” and wants a “step-change” to “maximise our economic potential and increase productivity” and to make its economy bigger and better. Is that really a realistic, or even sensible, ambition for a beautiful rural county that is currently 33rd out of 41 English Counties on economic performance?
Updated August 2019