PASSIONATE protesters have lobbied the town council to safeguard an historic site.
Scores of concerned campaigners descended on a meeting of Oswestry Town Council to call on them to stand against plans for a housing development at the foot of Old Oswestry Hillfort which have been proposed under the county’s Site Allocations Management and Development (SAMDev) scheme.
Last week they presented Shropshire Council’s Mal Price, councillor and Cabinet member for planning, with a 5,000-signature ‘Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort’ petition calling for the protection of the site.
In a specially extended public session, John Waine, of The Best of Oswestry, spoke on behalf of the group and highlighted English Heritage’s objections to the plan for the site it described as “one of the largest and most impressive hillforts in England ... of great national importance, helping to define our national story and identity”.
He also criticised Shropshire Council’s persistence in pushing for it.
He said: “Why does Shropshire Council keep coming back with this?
“Building land will always be found but some areas need to be protected for future generations to enjoy.”
Campaigner Neil Phillips, of Chapel Street, Oswestry, added: “We have more than 6,000 signatures on the petition now in a very short time and that’s got to be noted.
”We elect you to look after our heritage and town.
“A very high percentage of the public have put forward their ideas and you need to relay that back to Shropshire Council.”
And George Nash, a Bristol University lecturer in archaeology, added: “This issue is not just of county but national significance and I hope there will be a full and proper consultation bringing in English Heritage.”
The plan, which ended its second consultation phase on Friday, earmarked three sites to hold 188 homes.
A number of Oswestry Town Councillors backed the public’s view that the site should be protected, calling it their ‘duty’.
Oswestry Mayor Cllr Chris Schofield called for a site visit for councillors and interested parties and a face to face seminar between the public and Shropshire Council before the town council reported its findings.
“We are adamant we will not look favourably on any development that would seriously impact the archaeological or historical significance of the hillfort,” he assured the group.
The council unanimously backed this pledge.
ABOVE: Oswestry Town Council meeting room was packed with campaigners against housing development at the foot of Old Oswestry Hillfort.