ENGLISH Heritage has reaffirmed its opposition to luxury homes being built at land close to one of Europe’s best preserved iron age hill forts.
After missing the crucial meeting in October – a result of their invitation from Shropshire Council only arriving three days before the event – English Heritage got the chance to once again express their concerns about proposals to build almost 200 homes on a site that has existed for more than 3,000 miles and can be seen for miles around.
The talks, described as “constructive”, should now allow Oswestry Town Council to make an official response to the proposal for almost 200 homes before the end of the year.
The organisation, dubbed the ‘Guardian of Oswestry Hillfort’, met with councillors and protesters on Thursday and voiced their objections to development at land off Gobowen Road and Old Port Farm.
They did not object to development at land off Whittington Road.
Mayor of Oswestry, Chris Schofield, said: “Members welcomed the very helpful position of English Heritage in respect of the sites.
“We will now arrange a seminar to consider all the implications and will take a report to a special meeting which will include a public session.
“The town council has been determined to provide an opportunity for the widest engagement and also to ensure that we are clear on what will and will not be acceptable to English Heritage.”
Protest group Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort (HOOOH) along with members of Oswestry Civic Society also met officials from English Heritage.
Both groups described the meeting as “enlightening” and “constructive”.
A spokesperson for HOOOH, said: “Based on this and numerous artefact findspots within the hinterland of the hillfort, this area is archaeologically very busy and further investigation is crucial.
“What has become crystal clear is the critical nature of the archaeological and ecological aspects of the site to any consideration of housing allocation.
“Previous archaeological and heritage impact studies have been shown to be incomplete and insufficient.”
The war poet Wilfred Owen completed his army training on the grassy mounds of Old Oswestry, which is also said to be the birthplace of King Arthur’s wife, Guinevere.
More than 6,000 people have signed a petition opposing the development, part of Shropshire Council’s plans to build 2,600 homes by 2026 to comply with Government targets.
Shropshire Council have apologised to English Heritage for failing to give them sufficient time to attend last October’s meeting.
A spokesperson for Shropshire Council said: “We can confirm that, while we’d been in informal contact with English Heritage about a meeting beforehand, the formal invitation with the full details was not sent until October 14 and we apologise to English Heritage for this administration error on our part.”