A new supported living scheme is set to be built at a farm offering day services to people with learning disabilities, after the plans were approved by councillors.

Shropshire Council says the £3 million project at Greenacres Farm in Walford Heath will provide state-of-the-art housing for people who require support, many of whom are currently placed out of the county due to a lack of suitable local accommodation.

The authority’s northern planning committee has now given the proposals the green light, despite concerns over the isolated setting.

Under the plans, eight apartments will be built in two blocks around a shared courtyard. Communal living areas will also be provided as well as staff accommodation.

The farm is owned by the council and provides opportunities for adults with learning disabilities to learn about agriculture and horticulture, including caring for animals and growing vegetables.

The site lies in open countryside, which means new developments are usually resisted, but the council argued the the rural location would positively contribute to the wellbeing of the intended residents.

Baschurch Parish Council vice chairman Steve Gregory spoke at the meeting against the application, saying such facilities in rural locations lead to “segregation and isolation” for the people who live there.

He highlighted the case of Winterbourne View – the scandal-hit private hospital in Gloucestershire where patients with learning disabilities were found to have suffered horrific abuse at the hands of staff.

Mr Gregory said: “For us, the fact that it’s remote and isolated is not really acceptable.

“In the 1990s this would have been a great scheme, in 2022 and beyond it really is out-dated.

“There was a huge national inquiry into a facility called Winterbourne View, which was a rural setting for people with learning disabilities and it went badly wrong because people couldn’t have oversight of that facility.”

Ruyton and Baschurch councillor Nick Bardsley said he fully supported the objectives of the scheme, but that there were better alternative locations.

He said: “Putting it bluntly, can we take a risk of perhaps inadvertently approving the site of another Winterbourne View?"

Despite these concerns, the committee unanimously voted to grant permission.

Councillor Vince Hunt said: “I don’t accept the assertion of this being a bit like Winterbourne View.

“The issues were inside the home, they were not because of its location, they were because of management and the lack of oversight of the staff, and I don’t think for one minute that Shropshire Council would allow that to happen as Castlebeck did.

“I think those are bordering on unreasonable statements to be honest.”

The council has identified 19 young people who would be suitable residents for Greenacres, 12 of whom currently live outside Shropshire.