URGENT: Write to Shropshire Council

Hermitage Farm

Urgent!

We are calling on all residents who are concerned about Shropshire Council’s plans to take 410 acres out of the Greenbelt at Stanmore to write to the Planning and Policy team ASAP.  We need to hurry, as they are just about to publish the ‘Pre-Submission Draft’ of this plan*  They are being hasty, and have not done everything they should have done to ensure this process complies with the rules before proceeding to this next stage.  We need to ask them to go back a step, provide more evidence, and give everyone enough time to properly consider it.

Write to the Planning Policy Team:

Email: edward.west@shropshire.gov.uk

Or write to:
Edward West
Interim Planning Policy and Strategy Manager
Shropshire Council
Shirehall
Abbey Foregate
Shrewsbury
Shropshire
SY2 6ND

Subject: Local Plan Review, Bridgnorth.

Make sure you include your name, address and postcode in your letter or email.

*Update, last week, on 5th Feb,  Shropshire Council moved the goalposts again.  It proposes publishing a full draft of its Local Plan (regulation 19 stage) in May 2020.  Cabinet’s will sign off that change at 12th Feb cabinet meeting.  Plus, the plan will be stretched to 2038 instead of 2036, meaning more houses will be required to meet its targets (and all the numbers, and all our hard work and calculations over the last year will change!).  We will not see the evidence, or the new figures, or the finalised plans (is the country park in or out of the plan for instance?!) until that time, and then we’ll only get a stingy SIX WEEKS to mount a defense.  This is ludicrous, and deeply unfair!

Below, we’ve outlined three ways to respond:

  1. Super quick bullet points for those in a hurry
  2. More comprehensive notes for those of you who like composing letters
  3. A template for those of you who hate writing letters!

1. Quick bullet points:

Your email or letter can be as short or long as you wish, but all you really need to do is get in these three points:

  1. Consultation on the Bridgnorth Local Plan Review has failed;
  2. The Evidence Base is incomplete so it has been impossible for me, the community and local town and parish councils to come to an informed view, as there isn’t enough information to allow anyone to do that;
  3. Shropshire Council should publish all the evidence immediately, then run a Preferred Sites Consultation on this site again (go back a step) rather than changing the plans and timetable, and proceeding to the next stage in May, because that’s unfair.

For those of you who enjoy writing a thumping good letter, we’ve expanded these 3 points a little below.  Below that, we’ve provided a template email that you can just copy and paste.  But it’s crucial to get something – anything – sent to them as soon as possible.  So send these three points, or a proper letter, use our template it doesn’t matter, just fire it off.  Go, go, go!

2. Long form notes for composing your own letter:

Consultation has been insufficient:

  • Despite the Preferred Sites Consultation opening on 28th November 2018, most residents did not hear about the plans until Shropshire Council’s public meeting in Bridgnorth on 17th January 2019, this is not enough time.
  • Consultation was due to close on 31st January – it was extended to 8th Feb due to residents having problems accessing consultation.  This is not fair.
  • If you didn’t hear about the plans until it was too late to fill in the consultation, say so in your email or letter.
  • It’s worth mentioning that Shropshire Council and local Town and Parish Councils have a duty to consult residents under Shropshire’s Statement of Community Involvement (SCI).  These are the common law principles that govern consultation.  There has been a failure to uphold the SCI; this is a serious failure of consultation.
  • Conclude this point by saying that you think Consultation on the Bridgnorth Local Plan Review has failed.

The Evidence Base is inadequate:

  • National Planning Policy says for a plan to be ‘sound’ it must be justified: this means it must be based upon a robust and credible evidence base.
  • The Bridgnorth plan does not have a robust and credible evidence base.  There are significant and glaring gaps.
  • Local Councils, and local communities have not seen (among other things):
    • An Economic Plan
    • A Local Housing Needs Assessment
    • A Traffic and Transport Assessment
    • A Strategic Environmental Assessment
    • Details of what other ‘reasonable alternatives’ they looked at
    • The Exceptional Circumstances justifying the deletion of Greenbelt
    •  An explanation of the ‘Local Circumstances’ that justify extra employment land
  • Therefore, it was impossible for anyone to reach an intelligent and considered view on the proposals, in the last consultation, as the evidence individuals, your local council and the community needed to make a decision was missing.

What you want them to do:

  • These issues are contrary to the Regulations and Common Law rules that govern how Local Plans should be made.
  • To rectify this, they should publish all the missing evidence immediately and then run a Regulation 18 (preferred sites consultation) on this site again – go back a step.
  • This would give town and parish councils, and the rest of the community enough time to make an informed decision about these plans.
  • Changing the plans and numbers, and then proceeding to a Regulation 19 Consultation – the next stage – is not fair, or justified, as it would mean residents, and town or parish councils would have to read thousands of pages of new evidence, and then would only have six weeks to try and understand it, come to an opinion, and then fill in a complicated consultation based on the narrow criteria of ‘soundness’.

Don’t forget to add your name and address to your email or letter.

3. Template email or letter

Email: edward.west@shropshire.gov.uk

Subject: Local Plan Review, Bridgnorth

Dear Mr West,

Despite the Preferred Sites Consultation opening on 28th November 2018 most residents only heard about it for the first time on the 17th January 2019, at the Council’s public meeting in Bridgnorth:

  • This allowed a woefully insufficient time for anyone to form a considered opinion as the Consultation was due to close on 31st January 2019. This closure date, extended until 8th February 2019, was still an unrealistic time-span, and an unfair one.
  • It would appear that the Council is deliberately denying the public sufficient time for thought, in order to push through its own agenda regardless of public opinion.
  • There has been a serious failure by the Council, and town and parish councils, to uphold the Statement of Community Involvement ( SCI).  I think this is in breach of the Common Law principles that govern consultation.
  • The Council has therefore failed to abide by its duty to the residents of the area.
  • The evidence base for the proposed changes is inadequate. We have not been shown an economic plan, a Traffic and Transport Assessment, a Strategic Environment Assessment, any exceptional circumstances justifying the deletion of Greenbelt land, or an explanation of “local circumstances” that would justify extra employment land.
  • All the aforementioned issues are contrary to the Regulations and Common Law rules that govern how Local Plans should be made.
  • We request that the Council publish all missing evidence immediately, and then re-run Regulation 18, and use the results of that consultation to influence the evolution of the plan.
  • Only then should you proceed to Regulation 19, and even then, we will need longer than six weeks in order to peruse all the resultant documentation accompanying the consultation, in order to reach an informed opinion when filling in any consultation documents based on the extremely narrow criteria of “soundness”.

Yours sincerely,

Your name and address