Shifnal expansion plans: Could move see town switch from Shropshire Council to Telford & Wrekin?
A move to build on green belt land between Shifnal and Telford could lead residents to question whether the town should switch from Shropshire to Telford & Wrekin Council, it has been claimed.
Councillor Ed Bird, who represents Shifnal South and Cosford on Shropshire Council, said he would not be in favour of the move, but warned blurring the lines between his town and Telford by building on green belt land could prompt debate on the issue.
Only last week Broseley Town Council voted to investigate a 'Broxit'-style switch of local authorities in a row over funding.
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Councillor Bird said residents would be concerned at plans for the development of Shifnal for the next 20 years, revealed in Shropshire Council's Local Development Plan.
They include creating housing, large scale employment sites, and a potential bypass around the town.
Councillor Bird said he questioned the need for a new bypass, and said that evidence would be needed to support it.
He said: "Shifnal is surrounded by green belt and it should only be taken out under exceptional circumstances, and currently I would say what exceptional circumstance are there in terms of the relief road and the practicality of that?
"There is a question of practicality and the usefulness, and there is no evidence yet for where the traffic is coming from and going to.
"We know there are traffic issues but we cannot say if it is residents coming through anyway, in which case the so called bypass road would not help."
Councillor Bird also voiced concerns that using green belt land to build a road would make it easier for developers to target Shifnal for housing.
He said: "If you build the relief road you would have opportunities to build houses all around it. That land would be gobbled up."
He added: "The land between Telford and Shifnal is gold plated."
The Shropshire Councillor said that it could even lead to a situation where residents feel the town would be better suited to being part of Telford & Wrekin Council, rather than Shropshire.
He said: "It would create a question mark that if we are going to build on there then we might as well became part of Telford & Wrekin. I do not think there is much of an appetite for it, and I am not arguing for it but it does raise that question."
Councillor Bird said the town needed its roads system tackling by carrying out the Shifnal Integrated Transport Plan, as well as a new GP surgery, and extra school places.
He said: "I understand why we need houses but we have had a lot of houses built and no improvements in infrastructure to go with them."
Councillor Bird also raised concerns that land earmarked for business must not be used for housing,
"Regarding employment land, we have had land allocated before and it has been converted into houses instead," he said.