A CONTROVERSIAL housing development in West Felton has been approved.
Plans for 35 houses and four commercial sites to be built on land by Tedsmore Road were approved by members of the North Planning Committee at the Shirehall on February 11, despite strong opposition from parish councillors and villagers.
But committee members raised concerns that using a national framework to decide developments leaves them with their “hands tied.”
Shropshire Council failed to meet five-year housing targets set out by the government so committees must judge developments based on the National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF), rather than the Site Allocations and Management of Development (SAMDev) plan, through which community plans were formed.
West Felton parish councillor Steve Haworth said at the meeting: “Based on the current state, the village is at its sustainable capacity already.”
He added that additional housing would bring more traffic from people commuting to work, which would bring more emissions and increase the risk of incidents and congestion at the Queen’s Head junction.
Shropshire councillor and committee member Martin Bennett said: “This is an extremely different decision for the committee to make.
“If we approve this we are totally undermining the core principles of the NPPF and the neighbourhood plan.
“Based on the overall logic of what we have been presented with it seems we should not be sat here anyway.
“I cannot see a purpose for the committee if we are just to follow the NPPF.”
Cllr Vince Hunt added: “I would not want it if it was in my back yard. I would have to go with the officer’s recommendation, but sadly so.”
Cllr Pauline Dee said: “It is to the detriment of our local committees that someone from out of our area can come in and develop here.”
In December the committee was minded to refuse the application against the officer’s recommendation over fears the infrastructure in West Felton would not support more housing.
But an officer’s recommendation to approve the plans remained based on sustainable development.
Cllr Bennett moved against the recommendation, stating the development is for land that is in the countryside of West Felton and “is very important in terms of visual importance to that area of the village.”
However Shropshire Council’s solicitor warned his reasons for opposing were not relevant to sustainability.