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The official definition of Conservation (as defined in the National Planning Policy Framework) which English Heritage is bound by is: “the process of maintaining and managing change to a heritage asset”. Fortunately no-one told Andrew Heaton and his colleagues, pesky local campaigners against a housing development close to Offa’s Dyke. Or maybe they were told but couldn’t get it out of their commonsensical Salopian heads that conservation ought to mean preservation of precious assets .
Andrew has sent the following thank you note to a large number of people and organisations including ourselves. We thought we’d publish it verbatim on the Journal (with his permission) as it gives an idea of how the planning process feels when viewed by non-specialists out in the country. The word he uses about it is “surreal“! That’s a well-chosen term. It’s where people with common sense eyes view something that doesn’t quite make sense! How many thousands of local campaigners have felt the same way (and with worse outcomes)?
I’m very pleased to tell you, that the Councillors rejected the proposed housing development, by a vote of 6:3. Thank you so much, for helping us.  Were it not for the help received, the diggers would already be moving in; your help, advice and encouragement is greatly appreciated.  
The Council meeting for the determination, was a very interesting experience.  In some ways, I thought that the meeting had a slightly surreal feel to it.  In the Council room, we had a situation in which the Planning officials were arguing a case for development, and stating that the heritage experts (English Heritage & Dr Wigley of Shropshire Council Archaeology) had no objections.  It was apparent, that the heritage ‘experts’ had no interest at all, in protecting the heritage assets, whilst the non-experts & Dr George Nash, were concerned that they should be protected !  Obviously, we are all interested parties, but when Councillors cite their own concerns about the possible impact on the heritage assets, I can’t help but think, that English Heritage & Dr Wigley should have been doing likewise. We had a situation, in which the non-experts were concerned about the heritage assets and the experts (bar Dr George Nash) were not – totally bizarre. 
Oh yes, top marks for one Councillor, who I feel made the best single comment of all at the meeting; he said that he didn’t place great value on the comments of English Heritage, as they are apt to change their minds. There is still a lot of work to be done, though.  I think that the residents need a meeting, to determine the next course of action. I think that we should seek to use the positive result, as a springboard for further action.

Thank you again, for helping save Offa’s Dyke from the developers.
Best wishes,


November 2014

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