Following the news that work is still needed to get Shropshire’s Local Plan adopted, Green Councillors have repeated their call for a completely different approach.
"The Local Plan, which is now stuck in limbo, was designed for ‘growth, growth growth’, and not for meeting local housing or business needs" says Cllr. Julian Dean. “A Plan that deliberately set out to go for a ‘high growth’ strategy was always likely to lead to unneeded and unwanted development and urban sprawl in our towns” said Cllr Dean. “The attempt to shoehorn in extra homes to make up for a shortfall in the Black Country, without doing a proper ‘Sustainability Assessment’ has now backfired, and we could end up with even more sites being developed, but without much to show for it by way of affordable homes for young families and key workers like nurses and those working in social care, or for the older population to move to, freeing up more family homes”.
The plan was voted through Shropshire council by the conservative majority, with other parties opposing it. “Even when they voted for it many Conservative councillors said they weren’t happy. They must be even less happy now.” said Julian.
Cllr. Dean, chaired the ‘Shrewsbury Growing Forward’ forum which opposed many aspects of the Local Plan. “We said when the plan was prepared that the overall targets were too high; that it still wouldn’t get enough affordable housing built for local needs and that it did not guarantee development that was in line with commitments to net zero carbon emissions.”
“With planning reform being considered by government Shropshire is in danger of being caught out having to build under the old rules, when the new rules could get us off the hook of over-development. The Planning Inspector is working under the old rules which may push us to accept even more building, most of which will be unaffordable for local people. Shropshire should investigate whether they can take the opportunity offered by the national debate to pause and improve this plan. If they can’t or won’t, we will commit to pushing for another review after May 2025, the next Local Elections. Our priorities are clear; homes that people need and that support a net zero future. That means increasing the proportion of homes built for social rent or under ‘affordability’ rules. It means having a plan that can demonstrate how it will reduce carbon emissions in the county year by year.”
The current plan aim for 25% of new homes to be ‘affordable’ across the county but much of this will need to come from ‘exception sites’ which may never be built. The main allocation from S106 agreements aims for just 10% in the north of the county and 20% in the south, including Shrewsbury. Yet Herefordshire has main area targets of 25%, 35% and 40%.