“Our hearts are with the campaigners, but the Town Council is right to be cautious”.
Shrewsbury’s two Green Party town councillors have issued a statement supporting the cautious approach taken by the Town Council over recovering land sold using an incorrect procedure. Cllrs. Dean and Lemon have said they would be overjoyed if the land can be returned to public ownership, but that they cannot support a ‘blank cheque’.
In their statement the councillors state “Protecting and improving green spaces is a core value for Green Party councillors. If the town council can find means by which the site can be returned to public ownership which still allow much needed projects elsewhere to progress, then we will be overjoyed. If this happens, we would expect to see a management plan for the land drawn up with the local community. But we cannot support the writing of a blank cheque for this.”
Julian Dean has added: “our hearts are with the campaigners, but we cannot ignore the impact that purchasing the land might have on money available for other schemes across the whole town. Most of these projects are to improve green spaces, recreation, play and walking routes. Some of the rhetoric has got out of hand so we believe it is important to make this statement now, in the hope that discussions on this can become more measured. The Town council is being criticised for being cautious and taking its time. But that’s exactly what it should do as the impact on the whole town could be significant. It's a shame some town councillors are playing fast and lose with the future of projects for the whole town.”
Julian added, “there is also some confusion about the planning permission. The town council actually objected to the agreed plans as we thought it was being ‘overdeveloped’ but the decision sits with the Planning Authority, which is Shropshire Council, not the town council”.
The land in question is on the edge of Greenfields Recreation Ground and has been separated from the rest of the public area for several decades. It was last used by Shrewsbury and Atcham as a tree nursery, until falling into disuse in the 1990s. The Town Council failed to uncover its status as legally part of the recreation ground when it was put up for sale. This meant a public consultation was missed. Subsequently the new owners won planning permission for 15 homes. There is a pending Supreme Court hearing on whether the planning permission granted by Shropshire Council should stand.
Link to full statement: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1di7l88ldnDbD9O3z58-qvk4-ced0tI3Is_PH5t8g2po/edit?usp=sharing
Link to associated letter to sent to star mail at the Shropshire Star: https://docs.google.com/document/d/19O7J44iuPq9uEyCiKKCY5P1VSziEVvgSumYxWj9b9Kc/edit?usp=sharing