Latest Planning News (June 2020)
Good news for affordable housing
Shropshire Council’s company, ‘Cornovii Developments ‘, named after the local Iron Age tribe from the Wrekin, has submitted its first planning application. The idea behind the company is to try and provide more good quality, affordable housing, something the private sector often fails to do. Some of this will be facilitated by using council-owned sites. The current proposal is for 33 houses on the former site of Crowmoor House, Frith Lane, Monkmoor. Some 36% are in the ‘affordable’ category.
We are pleased to see such a venture and our committee was positive over the plans. We liked the clean, modern design but commented on some details, for example, there could be more variation and some features – porches, windows – improved.
The plans have not been assessed in terms of Shropshire’s own design quality criteria. You can see our comments on the Shropshire planning portal, application reference 20/01553/FUL.
The Shock of the New
An application for a new dwelling, of very modern design with sloping flat roof, at the Hawthorns Belle Vue in a Conservation Area brought up a familiar problem: how can a new building fit in with and enhance an older streetscape? What makes the difference between good contribution and detrimental impact on a neighbourhood? Among issues, it takes close consideration of context but all too often this leads to pastiche, or ‘pretend old’, an easy, uncontroversial and unimaginative way to make something blend in with what is there.
Shrewsbury has a wonderful built heritage but which buildings from the 20th and 21st century can we take pride in? This application provided a number of 3D artist’s impressions to help show the proposed plans in their setting. This includes some newer housing and garages. Overall, we liked the plans – our view that a modern house works well in the site – with some caveats. The building is too large for its footprint and the hard surfacing portrayed bad for run-off and visual amenity.
But the Town Council has objected. And the Conservation officer has concerns over size and the proposed external materials which “may lead to this dwelling appearing alien”. Take a look and see what you think, see 20/01741/FUL.
Keep Shrewsbury Green
We often see requests to fell trees around the town at this time of year. Sometimes there are good reasons – a diseased or damaged tree – and/or intentions to replace with something better for the site. Trees do have legal protection. Special permission is needed to fell or reduce a tree in Conservation Areas or if protected with a ‘Tree Preservation Order.’
And a good quality tree expert can come up with a solution that avoids felling. The Town Council joined us recently in objecting to an application to fell a stand-alone mature oak tree in Bicton Heath. Let’s keep our trees.
The ‘car-lite’ town!
The society has recently released a document on improving the town centre for pedestrians. Now the Big Town Plan’s ‘Recovery Taskforce’ is looking at how the town can work in the new context of social distancing and safeguarding people’s health. This may include wider pavements and less traffic. Less cars gives more space to the pedestrian, cleaner air to breath and could potentially be a positive outcome of this crisis. It is vital to get measures in place that encourage town centre visits and use of the businesses that depend on them.
We hope any changes will be carefully designed. Some recent highway alterations have fallen short, with, in one instance, historic York stone pavements torn up and replaced by a cheaper substitute. We wrote to the Highways Department to ask about their attention to Conservation aspects but had no reply.
Carry On Planning
We are continuing to review and comment on planning applications. We now meet to discuss these monthly by video-conferencing. We are in a very important period of change – that’s without coronavirus – with implications for how the town evolves. Mike Carter, our planning committee chairperson, has outlined some of these factors in a recent article in My Shrewsbury and details can also be found on the society’s website. The Town Council and Shropshire Council have also announced a ‘Climate Emergency’ with sustainability central stage for planning and the town.
Shrewsbury West Urban Extension
An application for 345 houses at the Shrewsbury West Urban Extension (SUE) has just been submitted. The plans for this part of the SUE, near Churncote Island at Bicton Heath, may be followed by more. This particular one does not rely on the building of the North West Road.