A Bit of a Breakthrough!
Shropshire Council admits policy error:
Justification for selecting large sites has disappeared
A major justification by Shropshire Council for selecting large sites for housing in Church Stretton is called the affordable homes threshold. Put simply, the affordable homes threshold dictates how many affordable (ie reduced price) homes Shropshire Council can insist a developer creates in return for allowing the same developer to build a set number of open-market (full-price) homes.
When Snatchfield Meadow and Gaerstone Farm were put forward by Shropshire Council as preferred sites, the Council insisted that the affordable homes threshold was a minimum of 10 homes. So, for example, the Council would allow a developer to build eight full-price homes in order to insist that the developer also builds two affordable homes (ie a ratio of 8:2).
It is clear that in Church Stretton no need exists for building open-market houses. The only justification for Shropshire Council in allowing the construction of open-market houses is to obtain the (very) few affordable homes that would then be created. So, in essence, the deal with the developer was : We will let you build many houses that are not needed to obtain a few that we require!
The Save Snatchfield Group has for some time asserted that Shropshire Council is wrongly applying the National Policy on the affordable homes threshold . (Probably this is because the Council has (against advice) classified Church Stretton as a Key Centre, and as such it believes that Church Stretton has an “urban” character).
However, the Save Snatchfield Group have provided evidence that all areas within the an AONB are, in fact, classified as “designated rural areas” by the National Planning Policy Framework, and as such the ratio of full price / affordable homes is significantly lower. Indeed, we also provided evidence to Shropshire Council that in the Arnside and Silverdale AONB this ratio is 2:1.
We are very pleased to say that today (20th February) Shropshire Council’s Planning Policy Team have now acknowledged their policy error - and this admission carries a highly significant implication.
It now means that Shropshire Council’s justification for selecting large sites, such as Snatchfield and Gaerstone, over the many smaller brownfield sites in Church Stretton, has evaporated.
We don’t yet know how, as a consequence of this policy error, Shropshire Council will be changing their approach to housing development in the Church Stretton area, but we do expect that they will want to urgently review their current proposals.
We will keep you informed as we learn more......