Post-election date expected for Oswestry Hillfort homes plan

Reporter:

Daniel Heald

CAMPAIGNERS opposed to a planned housing development near Old Oswestry Hillfort fear a decision on the site’s future may be delayed until after May’s General Election.
 
Plans to construct 117 new homes at the site near Whittington Road form part of Shropshire Council’s SAMDev housing development plans submitted in August last year.
 
The inclusion of the land has prompted outrage among those keen to preserve the Iron Age monument.
 
The matter was subsequently referred to an appointed planning inspector whose delayed report is not expected to be published until the end of the month.
 
A six-week consultation period will then follow to allow for modifications and amendments to be implemented before a final report is published.
 
The Hands Off Old Oswestry Hillfort (HOOOH) group has led the fervent opposition to the plans and has secured more than 8,000 names for its petition against the development, which included signatures from archaeology Groups, Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Heritage Action and eminent academics.
 
A statement from HOOOH said: “It’s fair to say that we are very disappointed with the delays in publication of the main modifications to the SAMDev plan.
 
“It is true that publication may not come through until after the election and people will make up their own minds as to whether this move is politically-motivated or not.
 
“From the point of view of the HOOOH campaign, now coming up to two years we believe that the case for removal of OSW004 is overwhelming and we have provided clear evidence to that conclusion with growing support from all quarters.
 
“Going forward, it is clear that Old Oswestry Hillfort is a precious international heritage asset, and as such, requires the protection of a heritage green belt.
 
“Whatever the outcome, the campaign will continue to work hard to protect, promote and celebrate the 'Stonehenge of the Iron Age' and the ancient heart of Oswestry for the town, the county and the country as a whole.”
 
Adrian Cooper, Team Leader for Environment and Economic Policy at Shropshire Council denied that the council had any influence over the publication date of the inspector’s report.
 
He said: “The planning inspector is working entirely independently of Shropshire Council and will publish her report when it is finalised. 
 
“Inspectors throughout the country are extremely busy at present with particularly demanding caseloads. 
 
“The council cannot rush the publication through, it’s wholly dependent on the inspector.”

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