Revised village housing plan recommended for approval

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021 7:19pm

By Keri Trigg - Local Democracy Reporter

New plans for more than 40 homes behind a village chip shop will be decided next week after previously rejected proposals were re-drawn.

Shropshire Council’s northern planning committee decided at a meeting in November to refuse an application for 48 houses in Prees Heath on the grounds of insufficient public open space – going against planning officers’ recommendation to grant approval.

The developer, Gleeson Homes, has put forward an alternative scheme which would see the number of homes reduced to 43, a footpath through the site to Golf House Lane, a larger area of open space and a children’s play area.

An appeal has also been lodged with the Planning Inspectorate over refusal of the previous application.

The new proposals, to be decided by the committee at a meeting next week, are for 19 semi-detached two- and three-bed affordable homes and 24 detached open market houses, each with three or four bedrooms.

Access will be through the car park of Prees Fish and Chips.

Gleeson says it will sell all properties at 20 per cent less than their market value to help local people onto the property ladder, but not all will be classed as affordable housing based on the council’s methodology.

There will also be no requirement for the 19 affordable homes to be secured in perpetuity, meaning buyers could go on to sell them for full market value in future.

The developer is proposing an area of open space totalling 3,848sqm, just shy of the 4,080sqm required by the council’s planning policies for a development of this size, based on 30sqm per bedroom.

The previously rejected plans proposed just 1,983sqm – less than half of the 4,140sqm required based on the higher number of houses.

A report by planning officer Richard Denison says: “This revised application now provides a significant increase in public open space and together with the designed play area and improved pedestrian links will be in line with current adopted policy.”

If approved, Gleeson would pay a community infrastructure levy (CIL) contribution on the 24 open market homes as well as £121,000 education contribution on the 19 affordable homes, towards increasing local school capacity.

A payment of £3,500 will also be made to the Prees Heath Common Reserve Butterfly Conservation Group for ecology mitigation in relation to impact on the site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

The report says: “The site is especially important for its population of the nationally scarce silver-studded blue butterfly and is the last surviving Midlands colony of this butterfly.”

Whitchurch Rural Parish Council has objected to the plans, saying it is not the right location for housing, has poor pedestrian and cycle links, and the proposed number of properties would be “overdevelopment” of the plot.

Four members of the public have also objected.

Recommending approval of the application, the report concludes: “Although the proposed development will provide an increase over and above the housing allocation for Prees Heath this is balanced against the real opportunity to provide a significant increase in affordable and low-cost home ownership within the Whitchurch rural area.

“The open market dwellings will be modestly priced and bridge the gap between the much larger and more expense detached properties which have been built within the settlement and local area over the recent years.

“The revised layout of this application now provides adequate open space which includes the provision of an onsite play area which will not only benefit the residents of the development, but also the wider community.”

The application will go before the northern planning committee next Tuesday, June 8.

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