Latest Planning News (July 2019)
Quality of planning applications
Very occasionally we admire the quality of a planning application made to the Local Authority. Recently Network Rail applied to renovate the famous and listed signal box at the Abbey Severn Bridge Junction. It was an application that showed real respect for the site and the original fabric, in plans to make necessary improvements to the thermal insulation.
For different reasons, we were also pleased to see the application to develop land off Lesley Owen Way. It proved controversial with residents, but was positive as a proposal to supply varied “affordable dwellings”.
On the other hand we frequently find the quality of applications to be very poor and think these should not be accepted (validated) by the Local Authority. Very few applications attempt to show how the immediate locality will be affected – the context of the plan – and there are occasionally indecipherable drawings, or incomplete explanations.
Most applications (95%) are decided by Council officers under delegated powers, and often (contrary to public perception) the decision is made in just 21 days. The few remaining have been decided by the Central Planning Committee (of Councillors). But this committee is to amalgamate with Shropshire’s Northern Planning Committee. We wonder what difference this might make.
We have been taking an increased interest in planning applications concerning trees. We support the Big Town Plan’s aim to retain ‘green corridors’, so important to retaining the town’s distinctiveness. We frequently comment on an application to remove a tree
Permission is needed to reduce or fell trees in a Conservation Area or with TPOs. For example, we were anxious about the third London Plane tree at the top of Pride Hill and the many trees bordering the river in the St Julian’s area. However, enquiries revealed substantive reasons for work on these.
Good but not in the small print?
We have seen several applications recently where development of a site is badly needed. A great opportunity for a developer can work for the town’s interests too. If the plans are not fitting for the locality or a Conservation Area, then we make detailed suggestions.
Occasionally, we are pleased to do this at pre-application stage. We are delighted to see some progress at Beechwood House (Belmont Bank/Town Walls) where we commented about details of the finishes. Similarly at the Congregational Church building on Chester Street, the latest scheme is good overall but has some intrusive features.
Breaking planning permission
Something we really dislike, is the flouting of planning permission. We have been alerted to two instances lately, where the actual building work has exceeded what was permitted. We hope the local authority will enforce the removal of unpermitted development. To allow such additions would undermine planning controls and put Conservation regulations at risk.
Shop and street frontages
We are always concerned with Shrewsbury’s streetscapes. An application for renovation of the Crown Inn (by Shrewsbury Abbey), sought to paint and brand three of the historic street’s buildings together. We thought this was unattractive, unnecessary and not respecting the individual buildings that made up the group, and so we objected. We also objected to a large black advertising flag outside Goldsmiths shop in the Town Square, as unwanted visual street clutter.
Buildings ‘letting the side down’
We are very aware of a number of buildings that are in bad repair and mar Shrewsbury’s looks. We have a list, and are seeking some help in following these up. However, we are pleased that 35, Hills Lane is being repaired at last and that 6, Abbey Foregate has started renovation work. But we are still very unhappy that the old Parveen restaurant on Wyle Cop is still in such bad external state.