Economic initiatives for Oswestry are “chipping away” at plans to build houses close to Oswestry hillfort, according to campaigners.

Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort (HOOOH) say the development of creating a Business Improvement District (BID) in Oswestry, as well as a Heritage Action Zone, will capitalise on the local heritage and character.

Meanwhile, the prospectus for the town’s Innovation Park off Mile End states ‘Old Oswestry’ as a key asset to encourage businesses and investors.

They also say changes in planning policy has raised further questions of the continued inclusion of the controversial inclusion of the land – better known as OSW004 in Shropshire’s development plan SAMDev).

Long-serving hillfort conservationist, Maggie Rowlands, said: “We cannot understand why these strategies are not feeding into the planning system, and why SAMDev cannot align with them by conserving Old Oswestry’s landscape, which is integral to the appeal of one of Shropshire’s most iconic heritage assets.

“You cannot continue to market Oswestry and Shropshire with iconic green aerial images of Old Oswestry, or attract people in from the bypass with views of the hillfort, if those fields become housing.”

HOOOH member, Neil Phillips, continued: “The hillfort and its hinterland landscape are iconic with outstanding heritage, environmental and tourism value that should prevent any development encroaching on them.

“OSW004 is simply unnecessary, especially when we have a glut of housing land and thousands of homes with planning permission which are not being built.”

Recent figures show that the county’s five-year housing land supply – of which SAMDev was designed to outline – is running at a 24 per cent surplus.

Shropshire Council also admitted earlier this year that there were more than 11,000 cases of housing with planning permission where construction had not yet started.

“If Oswestry becomes a Heritage Action Zone, this will provide scope to get redundant residential properties in the town centre back into use, reducing the need locally to build new houses,” Mr Phillips added.

HOOOH has published advice on how to support the interests of Old Oswestry in the current SAMDev review consultation, which runs to December 22.

Details can be found on the Old Oswestry Facebook page or website