Plans for 48 homes in Prees Heath rejected over lack of green space

Plans for 48 houses to be built behind a chip shop near Prees have been rejected due to the lack of green space. Gleeson Homes had intended to develop a field in Prees Heath, accessed through the car park of the chip shop on the A49, to provide starter homes for first time buyers to be sold at 20 per cent below market value. Shropshire Council’s northern planning committee praised the model but said the houses were in the wrong place, with too many houses and not enough open space.

The committee heard at a meeting on Tuesday that objections had been received from the parish council and 20 members of the public, along with a petition bearing 102 signatures. Planning officers had recommended the plans be approved despite acknowledging the proposed 2,000 square metre area of open space was less than half the size required by planning policy for a development of this scale. A statement from Whitchurch Rural Parish Council was read at the meeting.

It said: “It is the right scheme but in the wrong place. “We are at present undertaking a housing needs survey for the Whitchurch Rural area. If, when we have the results of our survey early next year, a local need is shown, then I’m sure we would support a Gleeson scheme in the right place, which would be a similar field on the edge of Ash or even better on the edge of Tilstock.”

A statement from Gleeson Homes was also read out, saying the development would prioritise local first time buyers, particularly key workers and military personnel who would be given a 48-hour priority window to reserve properties before they go on general sale. The statement added: “This critical mass of new family homes and open space on an otherwise enclosed site is a real opportunity to enhance and anchor the village of Prees Heath. We, like your officers, consider that the site is in a sustainable location, it benefits from excellent access to local services, facilities and bus links.

“Inevitably new residents will support existing local businesses and thereby provide an opportunity for them to enhance their offer as a result.” If approved, the developer would have been required to provide a GBP148,000 contribution towards other open spaces to compensate for the shortfall on the development, as well as GBP168,000 towards increasing local school capacity, and GBP265,000 in community infrastructure levy (CIL) contribution. Committee members said their main issue was the shortage of open space.

Councillor Vince Hunt said: “I think the Gleeson model is particularly good, I think it’s very suited to Shropshire and I think it does give people who are first time buyers a leg up onto the ladder, and that is to be applauded. “The downside is the public open space. “We have had applications in the past where payments have been made instead but often these are developments on the edge of some accessible open space, and that’s increased the facilities and upkeep for the use of the residents.

“This developer is talking about giving money to the common across the road, that would mean the crossing of an extremely busy A road. “There is provision on site for younger human beings to play on a play park which is good, but I can’t see us particularly wanting teenagers to play football on the A road or on the car park of the lorry cafe or having to cross the road to go and play football there. “Going through a truck stop cafe car park and then having to cross the main road to be able to access any open space – it’s not just undesirable, it’s foolish, and people won’t do it.

They will get in their cars and drive to other open spaces.

“I can’t support this in any way, shape or form.”

The committee voted unanimously to refuse planning permission.

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