Hillfort campaigners raise fresh concerns


Rebecca Cole

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to halt a housing development at the foot of a 3,000-year-old hillfort have raised fresh concerns.
Now in the final stages of public consultation, Shropshire Council’s Site Allocations and Management of Development (SAMDev) plan includes the allocation of almost 200 houses within a stone’s throw of the ramparts of Old Oswestry, a scheduled ancient monument which is acknowledged as one of Britain’s finest Iron Age hillforts.
The Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort (HOOOH) group has called planners’ assessment of the hillfort sites “unreasonable and inconsistent” in comparison to other sensitive sites now dropped from SAMDev.
Their objections are being considered by councillors as they finalise their response to SAMDev this month.

A spokesperson for HOOOH said: “Shropshire Council planners have rejected housing further away and to the west of Old Oswestry, stating unequivocally that it will have significant detrimental impacts on the hillfort’s setting.
“You would expect at least the same assessment for the development at Oldport Farm to the east, which is much closer, coming within 80 metres of the monument.
“But Shropshire Council planners are taking a far more relaxed line, seemingly happy to accept development with the only proviso that it pays regard to the importance of the hillfort’s setting.
“This shows blatant inconsistency in planning interpretation when you consider that the eastern aspect of Old Oswestry provides the defining and most prominent view of the hillfort from main routes like the A5.
“It makes Shropshire’s judgement look all the more unreasonable and untenable.”
Backed by a petition of almost 8,000 signatures, Oswestry Town Council was granted an extension to SAMDev’s original deadline of August for further consultation on the controversial proposals.
HOOOH is urging the town council to “listen to and represent the people who elected them to look after the town”.
“They have made their feelings very clear through consultation and the petition,” the spokesman added.
“Oswestry’s community want the historical legacy and beauty of the hillfort preserved and that rules out housing.
“The pressure is now on Oswestry Town Council to respect and not betray their electorate.”
l To sign the petition visit http://tinyurl.com/hillfortpetition

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