Much Wenlock Town Council

Response to Shropshire Council Strategic Sites Consultation

Consultation period Monday 1st July, 2019 to Monday 9th September 2019

Much Wenlock Town Council held an extraordinary meeting on Thursday, 15th August 2019 to help formulate this response to the consultation.

Response

An overall response to all the sites under consideration:-

“Strategic Sites are large sites of more than 25ha in size, which are not associated with meeting the growth needs of any particular settlement and contribute to achieving the aspirations of the Economic Growth Strategy for Shropshire.”

We note the reference above (Shropshire Local Plan Review Consultation on Strategic Sites July 2019, page 3) but the sites for consideration appear to have much higher levels of housing provision than comparable employment land.

Tern Hill

72 ha of which 5.75 ha is employment land and 750 dwellings

Former Power Station, Ironbridge

140 ha of which 6 ha is employment land and 1000 dwellings

RAF Cosford

203 ha MOD receiver site

Junction 3, M54

Whilst not being considered at present, this is indicated as complementary to RAF Cosford and is by far the largest site for employment land, with 50 ha indicated

Overall the allocations of employment land would therefore appear low compared to the housing land being allocated.

Much Wenlock Town Council wishes to respond in more detail in relation to the Former Ironbridge Power Station site, which is within a very short distance of the northern boundary of the Parish of Much Wenlock.

The site is indicated as part brownfield, although a considerable area of the site is actually greenfield land which, as indicated on the Master Plan published by Harworth Group, is mainly to be made available for housing development.

Overview of the site and location

In a previous response to pre-application information relating to highways issues associated with this development, Much Wenlock Town Council made reference to this site being very much in a cul-de-sac position.

The site is bounded to the north by the River Severn, which acts as a natural obstacle, whilst to the south it is bounded by an ancient woodland and SSSI.  The Shropshire Hills AONB is also to the south and west.

Access to and from the development site is very limited and is reliant in all respects on the free flow of traffic over the Buildwas Bridge.  Buildwas Bridge has considerable constraints in relation to highway capacity in the area.  We have concerns about the vehicle movements to and from the development having such a reliance on this bridge structure and we question the actual capacity that can be expected to be free flow over this bridge.  The employment workforce and the suggested inclusion of a Park and Ride facility would have major commuter traffic implications and, when added to the residents of the 1000 proposed dwellings, would result in considerable traffic implications.

Strategic Sites Consultation

Much Wenlock Town Council Response

Much Wenlock settlement is 3 miles to the south of the site and the Town Council members very much share the concerns of local residents about the adequacy of the A4169.  This road is likely to take vehicles to and from the West Midlands conurbation, passing through what are already congested areas of Much Wenlock and a Conservation Area.  In response to concerns raised by residents, Much Wenlock Town Council propose that a by-pass of Much Wenlock is re-considered.  This project was shelved in favour of the Hodnet by-pass some years ago.  Such a bypass is required to link the Ironbridge site to the A458 south of Much Wenlock, avoiding the settlement itself.

We also need clarification on what is actually to be developed on the site and to have development capacity of the site clearly itemised.  This is not presently clear from the consultation documents: we have the conflicting information contained in marketing material presented by “Invest in Shropshire”, the Economic Growth Service of Shropshire Council, which was used at a major development exhibition, MIPIM, in Cannes, France in March 2019 which indicates not 6 ha but 20 ha of employment land, resulting in 4520 FTE jobs, on what it describes as a brownfield site.  This number is a considerable increase over the 400 employed at the peak of the operation of the Ironbridge Power Station.  The infrastructure

requirements must be expected to increase considerably with such growth combined with other indicated development such as the Park and Ride, which would all attract vehicle movements in and out.

We do, however, see that this site offers considerable opportunities for both the developers and Shropshire Council to design, plan, provide and oversee a development of the highest standards, set as it is, in an outstanding location.  We therefore urge that the site is not subject to overdevelopment and it is developed to a capacity that sits comfortably within the surrounding infrastructure for a locality that is placed on the boundary of two unitary authorities with limited facilities in the immediate local area.  Please ensure the development does not become a burden to the quality of life on nearby settlements and the opportunity results in positive outcomes which, we believe, can be readily achieved with good design and good planning.

Specifics in relation to the site

Landscape and Visual Impact

The sustainability appraisal summary for the Power Station site  IRN001 was considered and we noted in particular that there was a “Poor” indication for both Housing and Employment at this site.  We urge that mitigation measures are undertaken that value the extremely sensitive nature of this site in terms of both natural and historic environment, with both a World Heritage Site and the Shropshire Hills AONB adjacent.

Education

We see that the Master Plan indicates the provision of a primary school, which we assume will be as part of a staged development.  We therefore raise concerns about primary education in the development period, which could have an impact on local primary schools in the neighbouring areas, which we understand are at, or near, full capacity.

Secondary school provision will not be made on the site, as we understand it, with William Brookes Academy Trust at Much Wenlock in the Shropshire Council area the identified site for secondary school provision.  Concerns have been raised in relation to the capacity of William Brookes Academy, both in terms of the buildings available and the tight constraints of the site for any future development.  Vehicle parking on the site has been an issue in the locality and has previously resulted in problems on the adjacent highway.  Outdoor space for the use of pupils has also been raised as an issue on what has become a very over developed area.

 

Medical Facilities

What discussion we have noted in relation to this site has very much focussed on the Ironbridge Medical Centre.  Much Wenlock Town Council and local residents have concerns as to both Much Wenlock and Cressage Medical facilities.  Particularly in the development period, these services are likely to be put under further, significant pressure.  We note the reference to advice being obtained from the CCG, but we are already aware of existing pressures on these two surgeries and they need to be included in such consideration.

Strategic Sites Consultation

Much Wenlock Town Council Response

Climate change

Having recently declared a Climate Emergency undertaking, we realise this will be a carefully evaluated issue for Shropshire Council in its considerations of the site.  We do, however, raise concerns about climate and pollution issues, particularly in relation to highways matters and the possible inclusion of a Heritage Railway on the site.

Cars at a standstill and idle, we know, emit twice the level of pollution than a car that is moving.  We therefore view with concern the indicated intention to slow the flow of traffic on the A4169 on the western boundary of the site with the stated aim of improving safety.  We foresee that there will be 5 major traffic congestion points within 3/10th of a mile and this will present considerable amounts of idling traffic, which will raise the levels of pollution.  We suggest this cannot be allowed and alternatives must be put in place to ensure traffic flows without impediment.  This is also essential at the bottom of Buildwas Bank, where we have significant concerns about the intention to place traffic lights to control this junction at the bottom of a steep hill with limited visibility.

Steam railways, as recent publicity nationally on such railways has stated, are known to cause pollution. The inclusion of such a railway, as we understand is being suggested, must be  carefully considered, particularly after the Climate Change declaration made by Shropshire Council.

Highways

Residents and Councillors of Much Wenlock have major concerns in relation to the quality of life and the business interests of Much Wenlock and surrounding parishes that could be caused by highways issues.  The serious lack of adequate roads and River Severn crossings must be addressed near to the development itself and in the settlement of Much Wenlock.

Much Wenlock is already subject to repeat diversions from both north- and southbound traffic from the A49 Shrewsbury to Ludlow Road (a very recent example on 30-7-2019).  Such diversions MUST be part of the model being used to evaluate this site.  We note the Wrekin Transport Model being used only covers the area to Emstrey, which we consider is not far enough along the westbound A5/A49.  To be meaningful to Much Wenlock, traffic data must include Dobbies island and, to the south, the A49 to Ludlow.  Please confirm such data is or will be part of the model.

The Telford Traffic Model appears to have resulted in a high number of traffic signals being placed around Telford.  Whilst this might be expected in the urban environment, we would view with concern any suggestion of the same being used at the Gaskell Junction, A4169/A458.  This would result in standing traffic on the A458, in the Shrewsbury direction in particular, which will be a potential hazard.

We also have concerns about congestion near to the development site on the A4169, where there are 5 major congestion points already in place or proposed on the three tenths of a mile of the A4169 before Buildwas Bank.  This will result in traffic seeking alternative routes through narrow, unsuitable roads, particularly the Sheinton and Cressage Road, which would involve passing Cressage School.

Residents and Councillors strongly believe the accumulative effects of the increase in traffic resulting from the Ironbridge Development will require the provision of a bypass of Much Wenlock.  This should link the site at Ironbridge to the southern direction on the A458 towards the West Midlands conurbation, completely avoiding the narrow, unsuitable streets of the settlement of Much Wenlock

Much Wenlock Town Council

5thSeptember 2019