Campaign comes to an end. Letter sent to the Shropshire Star and Newport Advertiser.

The final approval given to build on the green field site to the west of Station Road (Shropshire Star, 29/1/22, ‘Plans for more than 300 homes to be built on Newport field get green light’) marks the end of an 11 year fight by the (Tried To) Save Newport from the Developers Campaign, a group of local people and organisations, who had sought to retain this last remaining and much valued area of open space between Newport and Church Aston.
Having prevented the building of a giant Sainsbury’s superstore on the Council owned land, then failing to have the site formally designated as a Village Green, the campaign group lobbied to retain the area as open space through the development of the Council’s Local Plan. This may have been successful had the Council not by-passed the Inquiry Inspector’s proposed modifications to the Draft Plan by submitting, and then approving, a planning application on land in their ownership.
Whilst the Bloor Homes scheme is a vast improvement on the previous development proposals for the site, this should not take away from the fact that there is no identified need to be building this major urban extension to the south of Newport. According to the Council’s own latest Housing Land Supply Statement, sufficient housing sites have already been identified to meet the assessed need for the next 6 years, a period during which the Council’s Local Plan is due to be reviewed and rolled forward. The developer’s statement that around 12 acres of usable green space, including a series of green corridors through the site creating new recreational and leisure opportunities and a community orchard, will somehow provide better open space and compensate for the loss of 35 acres of Grade 2 agricultural land, I would suggest is somewhat debatable.
Work has now started to prepare the site for development, with hedge and tree cutting prior to the bird nesting season. A number of issues, however, still remain unresolved. There is still no approved surface water drainage scheme, the extent of the loss of hedgerow along the A518 has still to be determined, and the capacity of the local primary and secondary schools to accommodate the required additional pupil places has been thrown into question.
Newport and its environs have seen the development of 1,300 houses, including those currently under construction, over the past 10 years, resulting in an estimated population increase of some 3,000 people, representing a 25% increase since the 2011 Census. Over the same period Telford is estimated to have grown by 10%. Telford is a designated growth area with infrastructural capacity, Newport is not. Funding to be made available by the developer through Section 106 planning obligations will not be sufficient to redress Newport’s lack of the necessary physical, social and environmental infrastructure to accommodate the impact of a further 300 houses.
This development could finally provide a tipping point and result in a marked reduction in the quality of life for local residents. This is reflected in the community consultation feedback undertaken by Bloor Homes consultants, with two thirds of respondents indicating that ‘there was not a need for new high quality homes in Newport’.
Of course, this will not be the last housing site to be developed to the south of Newport, with the land to the east of Station Rd about to be sold with outline planning approval for a further 200 houses.
John Pay Church Aston

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