Local resident Mark Williams secured an impressive win for the Liberal Democrats in a Shropshire Council by-election in Highley on 23rd June 2022. The by-election was held following the resignation of the previous Independent councillor. Turnout in the by-election was 40.3%, and Mark achieved 54% of the vote, ahead of the 2nd placed Conservative candidate with 24% and Labour and Green opposition.
Mark has lived in Highley for nearly 35 years and has strong roots in the community, where his father was the vicar at St. Mary’s church for nearly 20 years. Mark’s wife Amy teaches at Highley Primary School and they have raised 2 children in the village.
Mark said: “I’m humbled to have won, especially with the numbers that came in. The fact that so many in Highley have put their trust in us is overwhelming. I want to live up to the expectations people have of us and of me.”
Shropshire Council is updating the Local Plan for the County, to guide future development up to 2038. Once it’s formally adopted, the Local Plan will be used as a benchmark for deciding planning applications. The full draft Local Plan includes:
Strategic policies about the approach to managing development across the county
Development management policies setting out how proposals will be assessed
Guidelines on how much development is expected, and where it can take place, for each of the major settlements in the County.
The existing Local Plan has 2 parts. The Shropshire Core Strategy was adopted in 2011, and included the top level “Strategic” policies (including the number of homes to be built and area of land to be developed for employment use) up to 2026. The SAMDev plan, adopted in late 2015, set out the detailed policies for managing development and the development boundaries for Shropshire’s main towns and villages. Within development boundaries, it is accepted that development can occur (subject to detailed planning applications being approved). Areas outside of development boundaries are countryside and development is strictly controlled. SAMDev included guidelines on what would be likely to be acceptable on larger “allocated” sites.
SAMDev moved the development boundary for Bridgnorth & Tasley. The area currently occupied by Bridgnorth Livestock Market and an area of farmland across to Hook Farm was allocated as a site for 500 homes and local facilities The Livestock market is scheduled to relocate to a green field site SW of the A458 Bridgnorth by-pass with an additional area of land next to it allocated for potential employment use. Up to the end of 2020 neither of these sites has progressed to the planning application stage so they have been kept as allocated sites under the latest proposals.
The Local Plan update looks further ahead – up to 2038. There’s now a nationally set guideline for the minimum number of homes Shropshire Council has to plan for; across the County, the Council has chosen to exceed this by just under a fifth. It has also said that it is aiming for “balanced growth” so that 1 new job is created for each additional home built. Development will be focussed on Shrewsbury and the county’s market towns and key centres, together with “strategic sites” (redevelopment of Clive Barracks at Tern Hill and of the Ironbridge Power Station site, plus further growth at RAF Cosford).
The development guideline suggested by Shropshire Council for the Bridgnorth area is 1,800 homes to be built between 2016 and 2038, and 49 Hectares of land to be made available for employment development. After allowing for the areas set aside under SAMDev and an allowance for small developments inside the existing boundary, the Council has proposed that a single major development site should be the main focus of Bridgnorth’s expansion. It is also suggested that the site should be developed along “garden village” principles.
Shropshire Council’s initial preference was to release land from the Green belt at Stanmore and build a garden village there, alongside expanding the current Stanmore Industrial Estate. This formed part of a public consultation between November 2018 and February 2019 (that involved 850 homes to be built by 2036). In Spring 2020 a competing proposal to build a garden village on land SW of the A458 Bridgnorth by-pass at Tasley was put forward and the Council chose this as a preferred option, alongside expanding Stanmore Industrial Estate. There was a further public consultation in August and September 2020 – this was limited in scope due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Shropshire Council’s Cabinet approved a final draft plan in December 2020. The next stage is to consult about whether the plan is “Sound” and legally compliant. The tests of “soundness” are:
Positively Prepared (meets identified need)
Justified (appropriate, based on evidence)
Consistent with national policy
After the consultation ends Shropshire Council is likely to decide to send the draft plan to be looked at by an independent planning inspector. The inspector will advise whether the plan is good enough to be formally adopted and may throw it out entirely or suggest that the Council change it. Your responses to this consultation would then be sent to the inspector with the draft plan, and be taken into account in making the inspector’s decision. Please have your say now, even if you’ve commented before, because this is a different type of consultation – earlier comments will not be sent to the planning inspector. Your response can be about any aspect of the plan – the details for the Bridgnorth area are in policy S3 (page 181 of the plan document).
The deadline for taking part in the consultation is 26th February 2021. Comments have to be submitted on standard forms. The main form for submitting comments is form B. You can send in as many of these as you think is appropriate to cover different issues – it asks you to say what you think is wrong with the plan and how you would like it changed. Forms B are linked to a form A which you only send in once and is about you.
Response forms, guidance on filling them in, and details of what’s in the plan are on the Shropshire Council website at:
Revised proposals for a housing development at Westgate in Bridgnorth were turned down by Shropshire Council’s southern planning committee at its meeting on 19th January.
Councillor David Cooper, who represents the area on Bridgnorth Town Council, said: “Local residents told me they were worried about road safety near the busy junction of Ludlow Road and Westgate, with 7 of the homes proposed to have driveways directly accessing Ludlow Road. They were also concerned about parking in the area as there was no provision for visitor parking in the development. The basic problem seems to be fitting the number of homes needed to make the development financially viable onto the site.” Shropshire Council owns the site but has agreed to sell it for open market housing development. Is Shropshire Council being too greedy about how much money it’s trying to raise through the sale?