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Here are the six highly pertinent questions put to Shropshire Council yesterday by the estimable John Waine on behalf of HOOOH followed by extracts (outlined in red) from the answers provided by Councillor M Price, Portfolio Holder for Strategic Planning. Please read both the questions and the answers carefully. What do YOU think is going on?
UPDATE: Fat lady is still silent, This from John Waine who represented the campaign at the Shropshire Council meeting this morning.
“Sadly and ashamedly Shropshire Council, or more specifically, Malcolm Price, has decided to ignore the decision and views of Oswestry Town Council and English Heritage and include OSW004 in their SAMDev plan. THE FIGHT GOES ON!!!”
Please see this…..
A couple of days ago a Government spokesman (let’s call him Dominic Fibber of Winchester, Balliol, White’s and Wimpey’s) told BBC News:
“Strong protections are in place for the Green Belt, ancient woodland, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and many other countryside and heritage treasures, such as World Heritage Sites. The national planning framework also puts power back into the hands of local people, ensuring they are in charge of deciding the areas they wish to see developed and those to be protected.”
Providing, that is, they fight like tigers, learn the planning system at breakneck speed, and get the support of top-notch experts to counter every spin and falsehood that’s put up. And even that’s not enough in the vast majority of cases, not unless the proposal is such an obvious, blatant, unforgivable assault on communal ownership that even it’s supporters eventually see it as shameful. Unless they are shameless.
Fantastic news, so far. Oswestry Town Council has now published its official statement based on Tuesday’s vote. This forms the basis of a letter they have sent to Shropshire Council ahead of today’s full Shropshire Council meeting on the draft SAMDev plan. It confirms they now oppose all three housing proposals adjacent to the hill fort.
Site OSW004 – part – Land off Whittington Road
“At our meeting last evening, acknowledging the revised view of English Heritage and also the various professional submissions and viewpoint on this matter, the Town Council now oppose the inclusion of OSW004 and formally request its removal.
The Council would ask Shropshire Council for a commitment following SAMDev to look to develop planning guidance for the Hillfort and its surrounds for the future bringing together interested agencies to formulate a strategy and policies looking to the historical and archaeological protection and promotion of the site.”
So now it’s down to Shropshire Council, meeting at 10.00am this morning…..
Whatever the claims to the contrary, all the reasons why two areas of potential residential development have been dropped also apply to the third – as has been eloquently shown by the campaigners’ and their refreshingly adequately qualified experts. So let’s hope that logic prevails and it too can become history. It may be a desperate fight though ….
Often when the public are concerned about an application to build near a monument there’s a remarkable absence of clear illustrations of what the development will look like. Lots of words, yes, but no pictures. Take a large Scheduled Monument and the hinterland around it, north of Oswestry – you’d think Shropshire Council (“championing the needs of residents and putting their interests first“) would have published nice pictures of that sort.
But no. So to help them, here’s one that someone put together and sent us:
It would be good if they now put links to it on their front page. Why wouldn’t they? Now THERE’S an interesting question. Why wouldn’t they?
[Image credit: HOOOH]
Please, please, please click on our Events Diary to the left (or here). It lists upcoming Prehistory and Heritage Events and it’s just fantastic! (I can say that as it isn’t me who faithfully maintains it, it’s Alan and Sue!). Not on there yet, but soon, is a Seminar & Exhibition In Defence of Old Oswestry Hillfort, a week Saturday. WELL worth a visit if you can make it.
Ironically the Events Diary is showing this event in Cardiff on the same day …
Workshop: I Love Archaeology
When:Sat, 22 February, 11:00 – 16:00
Where:National Museum Cardiff, Cardiff, United Kingdom
Workshop: The Origins Gallery at National Museum Cardiff displays the archaeological treasures of Wales.In this workshop you’ll find out more about some of the collections and contribute to a piece of collaborative art. http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/whatson/?event_id=6847
We’ve been sent this image by HOOOH, Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort. We thought we’d share it as it illustrates with perfect clarity why the idea of building hundreds of new houses close up to the monument is simply ludicrous.
Let’s hope it is sent to every councillor – including the one that quoted an isolated bit of case law that said that a monument would need to be in danger of evisceration before refusal was justified!
Or to the Government, which stated in 2011: ““The presumption in favour of sustainable development is not a green light for development….. Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other designated land will retain the protections they enjoy today.”
And when we are old we can tell people we remember all this when it was fields….
[ Image Credit: Huw Davies ]
For the information of those children:
The up-to-date position is that the Town Councillors (who won’t be around when you are old) have given a bit of ground but, in the words of yesterday’s press release from Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort …
“Although it is objecting to houses on Oldport Farm (OSW003) in their current form, the Council is not demanding they are removed, and is accepting the largest parcel of houses off Whittington Road (OSW004) unopposed. But in response to HOOOH’s objections, the Council has added a binding condition requesting that Shropshire Council follows ‘due diligence to ensure that the heritage assessment [is] compliant with NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework] through an independent evaluation.”
So not exactly a message to the future which says “we did our utmost to protect the setting for you”……
by Dr George Nash
In terms of setting, Old Oswestry Hillfort has commanding views across the four compass points and clearly interacts with Wat’s Dyke (north and south), Oswestry’s post-medieval town-form (south), the parkland and garden landscapes of Brogyntyn (west), the Park Hall and Old Port Farm complexes (east) and the Wrekin (south-east). One would think that under current English Heritage guidance, the various vistas this impressive scheduled monument commands would be safe for us and future generations. However, for reasons unbeknown to myself and other academics, English Heritage have gone against their own guidance on setting (see free download documents: The Settings of Heritage Assets [October 2011] and Seeing the History in the View [May 2011, with revisions June 2012]. I, along with many people in and around Oswestry are perplexed by the double standards that appear to be in operation.
Here is what they say in Seeing the History in the View (2011 [revised 2012]):
“Views play an important part in shaping our appreciation and understanding of England’s historic environment, whether in towns and cities or in the countryside. Some of those views were deliberately designed to be seen as a unity – for example Greenwich Palace seen from the River Thames, or the many facets of Stowe Park in Buckinghamshire. Much more commonly, a significant view is a historical composite, the cumulative result of a long process of development. The existence of such views, often containing well-known landmarks and cherished landscapes, enriches our daily life, attracts visitors and helps our communities prosper.
……Historically important views are among the many sensitive issues that local planning authorities have to consider, and this account of English Heritage’s method of assessment is intended to help clarify this heritage aspect of the planning process, and promote national consistency. It should be especially useful to those commissioning and carrying out area-based studies as advocated by English Heritage and CABE in their joint Guidance on Tall Buildings (2007).
English Heritage will apply this method to its own decisions in relation to developments affecting views, and we believe that planning authorities and other interested parties will benefit by adopting the same approach”.
Chris Smith National Planning Director | English Heritage, May 2011
Extract from Seeing History……(free download document published by English Heritage in 2012)
Dr George Nash is an Archaeologist & specialist in Prehistoric and Contemporary art. He is Associate Professor and Senior Researcher at the Faculty of Architecture, Spiru Haret University, Bucharest, Romania and at the Centro de Geociências, Museu de Arte Pré-Histórica de Mação, Portugal.
From The Old Oswestry Facebook Group about last night’s meeting:
“….we are seeing signs that the town council is starting to listen. In brief, they have agreed to revise their SAMDev draft response to ask Shropshire Council for a review of current archaeological reports and heritage assessment supporting the Oldport proposals – a point that HOOOH has been strongly campaigning on. What’s really encouraging is that Oswestry Town Council is forming a view of the Oldport proposals outside of English Heritage, and taking the initiative to query the evidence base … “
Comment from Dr George Nash:
Quite clearly witnessed last night was the confusing statement from English Heritage [on] the council members. In their various guidance documents, setting is paramount but in the case of Old Oswestry Hillfort little thought appears to have been given, especially the views towards the south and south-east. The Council Members are not experts in cultural heritage, so some of them can be forgiven for voting the way they did and basing their assessment on the so-called experts from English Heritage. I urge all council members to read .’The Setting of Heritage Assets’, published by English Heritage in 2011 (by the way, it’s a FREE download from their website). What they say in this document is very different to the advice that council members were given.
The document referred to can be found here: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/setting-heritage-assets/