CAMPAIGNERS have been accused of 'misinterpreting' proposals for housing near the Old Oswestry Hillfort.

Hands Off Our Old Oswestry Hillfort (HOOH) has voiced concerns over proposed developments close the ancient landmark under Shropshire Council's Local Plan review.

But the authority has claimed these concerns appear to be based on a misinterpretation of the proposals.

Adrian Cooper, Shropshire Council’s planning policy and strategy manager, said: “We acknowledge campaigners’ concerns about the current Galliers application for the development of a site which is already allocated in the SAMDev Plan. These views are consistent with the position they adopted during the preparation of SAMDev, and will doubtless be expressed as objections to the planning application.

“However, their concerns about further northward expansion in the setting of the hillfort seem to be based on a misinterpretation of the background evidence which has been published in support of the current Local Plan Review.

“No additional development sites are proposed near the hillfort. Indeed, the recent consultation document explicitly recognised that:

‘Additional development opportunities adjacent to the existing Development Boundary for Oswestry are now extremely restricted by the presence of physical, heritage and environmental constraints such as the setting of the Old Oswestry Hillfort; sensitive landscapes to the north and west; the Oswestry bypass to the east; and flood risk and accessibility issues to the south.’

“Campaigners seem to have confused the land which we were asked to consider by landowners – shown here – with the preferred sites which we are actually proposing to allocate – one small site on the west of Oswestry, plus land at Park Hall."

HOOH has arranged a 'Hillfort Hug' demonstration on Sunday, March 24 to voie their opposition to plans for 120 houses near the site.

The Advertizer reported last week that HOOH said the fields targeted include some land previously ruled out of the local plan during consultation – and that development in the hillfort’s surroundings “flies in the face” of a recent landscape assessment commissioned by the local authority itself, which categorises the area as highly sensitive to development.

An HOOOH spokesman said: “This is a strong indication that Shropshire planners believe there is scope for further town growth northwards into the hillfort’s setting, using the town boundary change to accommodate Galliers’ scheme as the precedent.

“People have come out in force at previous hugs and we urge them to show their support again as the threat of development to this national jewel closes in from all sides.”