Last week’s Government advice to Local Authorities not to worry too much about buffer zones was unnecessary in Shropshire where the Council is already not worrying about them. Oswestry Hill Fort is one of the largest Iron Age Hill forts in Europe and is hugely impressive by any measure yet a plan to build houses right up to its base remains on course.
(A year ago we wrote: “There’s talk of housing estates being built within yards of it and a big protest is brewing. Who knows if it will happen, but one thing’s a cert: if it doesn’t it won’t be out of respect for the “setting”. We don’t do setting when it comes to hill forts. Not an inch. Too big and ugly – and scary maybe? Who knows? We need a cultural-historical psychologist to explain it perhaps. Or a shrink. But it’s a definite fact. Some small Tudor houses have massive settings, whole hill forts can whistle for them. “)
One thing the Government said has been complied with: “The views of local communities likely to be affected should be listened to”. Trouble is, “listen to” has not been taken to mean “heed” and despite all the consultations and protests the plans are still in place. The bottom line is that although the surroundings of hill forts are part of their very essence they have no statutory protection. Add to that the general rule that if there’s money to be made someone will try to make it and you have the situation in a nutshell. We’re not talking “best solution for the community and the monument” here, we’re talking of massive potential profits and hence quite a dirty war. If only there was a buffer zone!
To quote Chris Cumberpatch again: if you loosen the safeguards “there can be no doubt that in the future those who profit from the destruction…. will seize on these omissions for their own rapacious ends …”
Anyway, if you want to take part in a dirty war you can sign an online petition against the proposals here: http://chn.ge/17lw7dT You can also join the current Facebook page to follow the campaign here: https://www.facebook.com/OldOswestryHillfort .
The final stage of public consultation on the SAMDev plan with full details of the proposed housing sites (OSW0002, OSW003 at the foot of the fort; OSW004 on the other side of the B5069) can be found here: http://shropshire.gov.uk/planningpolicy.nsf/viewAttachments/AWIN-99JGZU/$file/Oswestry-area-samdev-revised-preferred-options-report-2013.pdf The initial aim is to achieve a deferral of the decision date on these three specific sites. The campaigners would also be grateful if you would share these details with as many people as you can.