RESIDENTS and councillors in Ellesmere are celebrating after the appeal to develop housing next to the mere was dismissed yesterday (Monday).
Planning inspector Nigel Harrison released his decision that 22 homes on Swan Hill should not be built yesterday morning, 11 days after the appeal hearing took place in Oswestry.
Kieron Williams, a resident of Swan Hill, said he is pleased with the outcome, adding: “I was expecting the inspector to take longer than this to come to a decision. Everyone feels very strongly about this area and this is a special place that we want to look after and it was just a case of keeping people in the loop.
“The development would have been an utter disaster and there was no saying which way it was going to go.”
He added that the decision should now “close the door on any more developments on the land for 14 years.”
Mr Harrison was taken around the development site and the mere after the appeal on January 16 by Mr Williams.
He said: “I wasn’t expecting to have the opportunity to show him the mere. It is not until you stand on the banks of the mere and see quite how valuable it is that you understand.
“He was obviously a decent bloke and I was grateful for the chance to do that.”
Applicants CMS JAW Ltd submitted an appeal after the original application - submitted in May last year - received more than 200 comments of objection.
Residents feared the homes would affect the mere and Cremorne Gardens which are directly adjacent to the proposed area.
They also worried the development would damage tourism and cripple amenities in the town.
In the appeal decision, Mr Harrison said: “Significantly in the balancing exercise I have also found that the proposed development would be harmful to the character and appearance of the surrounding area in terms of its unacceptable impact on the setting of The Mere, the historic designated parkland of Cremorne Gardens, the street scene in Swan Hill, and the setting of the adjacent conservation area.
“I have taken into account all other material considerations raised but they are insufficient to persuade me that the appeal should be determined other than in accordance with the development plan.”
Ellesmere Town Mayor Alan Clarke said: “It is what we expected in a way because, I think, of the overwhelming feeling of the people of Ellesmere.
“They were very strong in their views and in their work to create a petition about saving the mere, which is one of the elements I think the inspector has honed in on.
“The mere is such a valuable asset to the town it would be wrong to do anything to endanger it.”
The one-hectare plot of land formed part of Shropshire Council’s Site Allocations and Management of Development Plan (SAMDev) in 2012 but was removed following strong opposition from residents.
The full planning application was then submitted by the developers.