Shropshire Council’s grubby machinations wouldn’t normally attract attention beyond Shropshireland. However, they’ve voted to damage a nationally significant monument in defiance of national advice so they’re under national scrutiny. So let it be noted they’ve just found their Leader guilty of offending against “the principles of Integrity, Honesty and Leadership” in their Code of Conduct but that he remains Leader! His only punishment is that he must attend “training” to ensure such “oversight” is avoided in the future. Will that help Oswestry hillfort? You decide.
Meanwhile, the evidence they’ve made a huge misjudgement on the hillfort grows ever greater and creeps ever closer. A recent appeal decision in Bredon, Worcestershire involves the same basic issues: would a housing development within the setting of a listed building and an historic monument cause more harm than benefit? The Inspector there ruled yes. The significance of that is that anyone who knows both places will know that by any honest measure the harm at Oswestry would be far greater than what has been judged unacceptable at Bredon (by both an Inspector and Worcestershire Council!)
Perhaps, nevertheless, they’ll still insist it’s chalk and cheese and far more complex than the campaigners and distinguished national experts are saying. If so that may be yet another “oversight” on their part arising from the fact they’ve failed to read Section 72 of the Bredon decision which could surely also apply at Oswestry. Far from complex, it’s rather simple:
“In view of the weight carried by the heritage harm, this harm is the overriding factor, and is not outweighed by the benefits of the proposal. Due to this environmental harm, the proposal also does not represent sustainable development having regard to the policies in the Framework taken as a whole.”
Update 25 November
Today the evidence against Shropshire Council’s decision at Oswestry became yet nearer and yet stronger. This time it’s an Inspector’s decision at Norton Hales, Shropshire, just 33 miles from Oswestry: (http://static.ow.ly/docs/Bearstone%20Rd_425A.pdf)
“34. On balance, I am satisfied that the minor harm that would be caused to the Conservation Area would be outweighed by the public benefits that the proposal would deliver.