KEY talks surrounding potential new homes close to Oswestry Hillfort have been deemed worthless after English Heritage failed to attend.
However, agents behind the proposals have said the developments will bring a protective ring around the Iron Age fortress.
The meeting on Thursday was hosted by Oswestry Town Council to help them respond to Shropshire Council’s Site Allocations and Management of Development (SAMDev) plan which identifies three patches of land in the shadow of the Iron Age structure.
It was attended by town and Shropshire councillors, agents acting on behalf of the landowner, and campaigner John Waine, and included site visits and a lengthy debate during the day, followed by an evening drop-in session giving members of the public an opportunity to speak with the agents and see how the developments and public access to the hillfort should look when completed.
Mr Waine, whose campaign to stop proposals attracted a 6,000 signature petition, said: “Everyone is here apart from the guardians of the hillfort. It almost questions the validity of today.
“I’m very disappointed.”
But he did praise the hosts, commenting: “They have done what Shropshire Council did not do. Transparency is so important in this.
“I think the town council have an important role to play in protecting and preserving this area.”
But Eddie Bowen, from Bowen Son and Watson, one of the development agents, said the farm could currently extend to the foot of the hillfort.
He commented: “There is a golden opportunity here. At the moment nobody knows what will happen from a farming point of view, but once this is done that is it. There would be a public open space around it [the hillfort] and that will secure it for the future.”
Fellow agent Andy Roberts, from Planit, said the proposal for 23 houses and a visitor car park at Old Port Farm, would reduce the building footprint by 44 per cent.
He continued: “We have thought about the landscape its visual importance and the heritage impact, which are linked.
“It’s about a balance. It [the development] has already been reduced and moved backed, but we have a monument here that could have tremendous benefits for the town economically.”
However, Hilary Rees, an Oswestry resident, said she remained unconvinced, commenting: “I do not like the idea of developing around something that is really unique and very valuable, not just for Oswestry, but the whole country.”