PLANS for a beauty spot to be given nature reserve status have taken a step forward after being backed by senior councillors.

Shropshire Council’s cabinet has unanimously supported proposals for the Cliffe near Ruyton-XI-Towns to be granted the designation, which brings extra protection from future development and boosts funding opportunities.

As the land is owned by Ruyton-XI-Towns Parish Council, Shropshire Council could not make the designation itself, and so cabinet agreed to delegate powers to the parish council.

The 22-hectare site was purchased from the Bradford Estates in 2019 and is managed by Shropshire Council under a formal agreement.

Nesscliffe Country Park, which lies next to the Cliffe but is owned by Shropshire Council, was one of four sites across the county to be granted local nature reserve (LNR) status by the authority in October 2020.

Councillor Lezley Picton, portfolio holder for leisure, said: “The parish council have given their support for the designation of their land as a LNR.

“The Cliffe provides a mostly open heathland landscape, one of the rarest types of habitat globally.

“There are panoramic views over the north Shropshire Plain and towards the distant hills of south Shropshire and Wales.

“I would like to pay particular thanks to Ruyton-XI-Towns Parish Council for having the foresight to purchase this land.

“My thanks also to the local members, Cllrs Nick Bardsley and Ed Potter, who have championed this project from the start, and also the Cliffe’s designation as a LNR.

“Ruyton-XI-Towns have really got hold of this and taken it forward.”

Now cabinet approval has been granted, Ruyton-XI-Towns Parish Council will be required to formally accept delegation and undergo the designation process.

The move was welcomed by Cllr‘ Potter, portfolio holder for children’s services and councillor for the Loton division which includes part of the proposed LNR site.

He said: “I very much hope, having seen significant increases in visitor numbers throughout lockdown with people enjoying the open spaces we have, that projects like this will enhance our rural community open spaces.

“Perhaps we can attract some further investment into managing them so that they can be enjoyed by all residents of Shropshire.”