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Projects & Planning

The Planning Committee of Shrewsbury Civic Society

View local planning applications here

The 15-strong committee reviews the 50 or so monthly planning applications, commenting where they are particularly positive or negative for the town.  An agreed view is reached from the range of opinions expressed by the members that include several architects and professionals.  Letters are sent to the Planning Authority built discussions are also held on occasions.  The committee holds regular Forum meetings for society members to hear about topical issues. The Committee is always open to views of members and can co-opt people to join.

Sometimes planning applications hit the headlines and engage a whole community. This is because places matter to people. But how much those making the decisions listen to the people affected is a moot and often controversial point.

Weir Hill Housing

Last December 2017 Mike Carter spoke at Shropshire’s Central Planning Committee who had met to discuss the plans for 600 new houses at Weir Hill in the south east of the town. At the same meeting were some 60 or so residents whose representative also presented their concerns about the development. The civic society were in particular unhappy with the access road to the site and the lack of community provision. Two councillors Mackenzie and Fraser spoke against the proposal too.

After a long debate, the councillors voted overwhelmingly to defer the application until issues concerning the access route, riverside park and community use had been improved.

It is difficult not to conclude that more stakeholder involvement and earlier is fundamental, when it comes to key, and therefore sensitive, developments in the town.

Stew, Frankwell and Mountfields

Meanwhile, a no less contentious planning application has been submitted to the council, for the renovation and extension of the Stew in Frankwell. We would urge our members and, in fact, all townsfolk to look at these plans. As members will know, we fought and succeeded, along with many other groups, such as the local residents of Frankwell and Mountfields, in saving the building from demolition. At the time, the Frankwell residents wrote the following in defence of the building: “We would be very much in favour of the proper and sensitive restoration of the Stew to its former glory, as perhaps the grandest merchant house and its accompanying warehouse in the whole of Frankwell and Mountfields suburb of Shrewsbury … ”

The civic society is likewise anxious to see a fitting restoration of the building, but this design which adds a storey and new dish-shaped modern roof that overwhelms the building and is totally unacceptable for both the building and conservation area, neither “preserving or enhancing” which developments within them are supposed to do. The Council’s special character assessment of Frankwell describes the roofscape thus: “The emphasis is on shallow pitched roofs, juxtaposed with steeply pitched dormers/roofs and skyline features such as gables, chimneys, spires and the roof materials; the majority of roof materials being in Welsh slate.”

This garish and self-conscious design is threatening the heritage that we fought to preserve in saving the building. And we argue that Frankwell Quay should have a planning brief, be looked at as a whole, including the maltings building, The Glen, so that this important industrial heritage of the river trade has the prominence in the town and setting it merits.

Anyone who has visited the restored Gloucester docks can appreciate the leisure potential of such waterside settings if development is done well and is sympathetic to history.

The Civic Society is trying to lobby generally for higher standards of design within the town. The county is proposing a high volume of house building up to 2036 and the quality of development is critical.

We are also getting more involved in strategic planning matters, a subject of particular interest to our current mayor. We will be hosting a public meeting in 2018 to discuss and raise awareness of strategy in different areas of the town. I hope that you will join us.