In planning matters there’s nothing special about Shropshire (other than the fact the Environment Secretary is an MP there but is doing absolutely naff-all to combat an all out attempt to wreck the setting of a fantastic hill fort there). You could say actually Shropshire is a pretty typical slice of middle England so it’s reasonable to think that what is happening there is pretty much what is happening everywhere. Which is why this article in the Shropshire Star is worth highlighting.
It’s a remarkable article with some unusually frank statements being made by both sides:
On one side you have property developers, driven by profit and pound signs who are looking to stick homes on every available plot of land….. On the other are neighbours, cruelly labelled by some as Nimbys (Not In My Back Yard), who are desperately trying to protect what little green spaces are left for future generations….. Stuck in the middle are the members of council planning committees, elected laymen and women….. Leanings towards saying no are often accompanied by gentle reminders from planning officers of the potential for costly appeals and court costs running into the thousands. …… Battles are being won on the planning front by people power……. But coming out on top in a few battles doesn’t win the war, which is still waging in all four corners of the county……
So what we can be done? Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard has launched a petition calling for a block to be put on what he calls “excessive housing development” in the county. Mr Pritchard said he intended to hand the petition to both Telford & Wrekin Council and Shropshire Council. “When I travel around my constituency, people tell me that they are not against housing but they are against excessive housing,” he said. “So many of the developments put forward are disproportionate and unsustainable, both physically and socially.
“Disproportionate” may well be the crux. Development yes, but not to excess and certainly not on greenfield sites or on sites of heritage significance when brownfield land is available. As if to emphasise how the system is skewed to making maximum profits for developers rather than addressing housing need, here’s a “hobbit house“ in Pembrokeshire ‘built of low-impact, natural and recycled materials” that is facing demolition for lack of planning consents! The young couple who built it clearly have no pals in the cabinet and, unlike the big builders, weren’t invited to design the current planning regime!