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Ironbridge Power Station homes spark fears for area

By Andrew Morris | Ironbridge | News | Published:

Plans to build 1,000 new homes and community facilities on the former Ironbridge Power Station site will have a “great impact” on the small nearby community, it has been claimed.

Shropshire Council officially adopted the development, which will also include healthcare facilities, a school and businesses at a meeting last week.

It will now go out for public consultation next month and has been adopted as a ‘strategic site’ in Shropshire Council’s local plan.

But Councillor Claire Wild, Shropshire Council member for Severn Valley, said it will have an impact on the parish of Buildwas, which currently has just over 120 households.

She said: “The Ironbridge power station sits in the rural parish of Buildwas; where there are just over 120 households in the parish.

“I have concerns over the cumulative impact that the redevelopment delivering some extra 1,000 new homes will have not just on Buildwas but the wider area.

“There needs to be a phased approach to mitigate this level of housing development. The overall housing numbers in the proposed local plan review should, in my view, take into account the strategic sites numbers.

“The major concerns for me are the inevitable impact on the environment from the traffic that will be created and the loss of 100 acres of green fields.

“There is also the issue of the impact on the heritage asset, Buildwas Abbey.”

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Critical

Councillor Wild added that work on the site would require an improvement to a nearby railway bridge.

“The critical issue at this time is the Albert Edward Bridge. The bridge is owned by Network Rail and needs to be strengthened in order for Harworth to remove one million tons of pulverised fly ash and two million tons of sand and gravel from the site by rail,” she said.

“Without this rail option the roads would be gridlocked and simply not cope.

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“Without an operational rail link the site should not be included in the local plan review as a strategic site.

“To balance this response, Harworth are a market leader in redevelopment of very difficult sites and have an impressive track record.

“Harworth have consulted widely and worked closely with the local community.

“The inclusion of extensive recreation facilities for sport, cycling and walking are very welcome.

“However, a development of this scale will impact on a great many residents in the surrounding area.”

Concern

Councillor David Turner, member for Much Wenlock, said his area would also be impacted.

He added: “There is widespread concern that carefully phased growth in Much Wenlock and the other local settlements may be blown out of the water by major housing growth on our doorstep from 2022.

“The recent consultation by Shropshire Council about “preferred sites” was conducted without including the impact of the Ironbridge regeneration.

“The impact of traffic alone from this development, when built, on the narrow streets of Much Wenlock, running as they do through the conservation area, will be considerable.

“Emissions from vehicles queuing to exit the A4169 onto the A458 at the Gaskell Arms, may affect the health not only of residents of Smithfield Road and New Road but also pedestrians and others living in the area.”

He added: “One point that hasn’t so far been emphasised is that not only is the Ironbridge World Heritage Site to the east of the proposed development, but also the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty lies immediately to the west.

“This wasn’t a topic for cabinet, but it’s one that I am sure will be played out in due course.”

Nicola Lowery, a former Ironbridge Gorge council member for Telford & Wrekin Council and chair of the Telford Conservative group, added: “Whilst the site is within the jurisdiction of Shropshire Council, I have over the last few years continued to reiterate the proximity and potential impact of this development to ensure the views of our community here in the Ironbridge Gorge are heard.

“It is positive to see that many ideas put forward for the site have been incorporated within the mixed-use development as there is a significant opportunity to provide high-quality employment, services and facilities that will benefit the local area providing that sufficient infrastructure is put in place to mitigate against the impact of development, which will hopefully include green infrastructure.”

Andrew Morris

By Andrew Morris
Local Democracy Reporter - @AndyMorrisLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Shropshire.

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