Our Letter To Shropshire Council Cabinet 7th December 2020

As you may know, Shropshire Council cabinet meet at 1pm today, 7th December, to decide on the next stage of the Local Plan, and on sending it out to Regulation 19 Consultation, also called the ‘Pre Submission Draft’ consultation, as this is as near as dammit what they intend to send to the Secretary of State for approval.

We were disappointed to see in the Agenda Papers for today’s meeting that the 11.5ha of proposed industrial land in the Greenbelt at Stanmore are still in the plan. We wrote to Cabinet ahead of today’s meeting, to ask them to reconsider. You can read our letter below, and you can listen to today’s cabinet meeting on Microsoft Teams by following the link on the agenda here.

Our letter:

Dear Cabinet,

Cabinet Meeting 7 December 2020
Consideration of Agenda Item 7
Regulation 19 Consultation Draft of Shropshire Local Plan Review

I write to you on behalf of the Save Bridgnorth Green Belt Group (SBGB) concerning the Regulation 19 Consultation Draft of the Local Plan Review and, in particular, the proposed allocations for some 11.5ha. of land at Stanmore, for employment uses.   The land involved is situated in Green Belt, in open countryside, and is unattached to any Principal or Key Centre, Community Hub or Cluster.

This allocation was proposed in the Regulation 18 consultation draft of the Plan, and the SBGB Group made representations at the time of that consultation exercise, objecting to the allocation.   Naturally, we are extremely disappointed that the proposal remains in the Plan.

The Regulation 19 consultation will ask for views on the “soundness” of the Plan.   It seems to the SBGB Group that the Draft Plan cannot be considered “sound” when set against the criteria set out as the tests of “soundness” in the National Planning Policy Framework, at least as far as the proposal for additional employment land allocation at Stanmore is concerned.  

Land in the Green Belt is given special protection against development by both National and Local Planning Policy.   To justify the release of land from such designation it is necessary to demonstrate that “exceptional circumstances” exist.   The reason given for the proposed employment designation at Stanmore is, as expressed in para. 5.34 of the Cabinet Report, that “the release of land from the Green Belt would be beneficial in supporting the future expansion needs of the Industrial Park”.   That is not an “exceptional circumstance” that would justify removing land from Green Belt designation, especially when significant areas of employment land exist, undeveloped, in nearby Bridgnorth, and other large areas are proposed to be allocated within the development boundary of Bridgnorth itself.

If no exceptional circumstances exist, the proposed development appears to be in conflict with several policies being proposed in the Plan, in particular,

SP2:       Strategic Approach,

SP4:       Sustainable Development,

SP6:       Health and Wellbeing,

SP10:    Managing Development in the Countryside,

SP11:     Green Belt and Safeguarded Land,

SP12:    Shropshire Economic Growth Strategy,

SP13:    Delivering Sustainable Economic Growth and Enterprise, and

DP28:    Communications and Transport.

and it is, therefore, extremely difficult to see how this element of the Plan can be regarded as being “sound”.

The SBGB group urge you to consider deleting these particular allocations from the Plan.   It appears to the Group that these allocations are little more than a means of circumventing the necessity to demonstrate,  if the proposals were to come forward in the form of planning applications, that “very special circumstances” exist sufficient to justify the construction of new buildings in the Green Belt, which the NPPF indicates is “inappropriate” development in the Green Belt. 

Yours sincerely
Rebecca Turner
Campaign Manager
Save Bridgnorth Greenbelt