In December, developers submitted plans for a pair of semidetached houses on Friars Walk.
I am not against this scheme in principle. But I don’t think it can be constructed without considerable disturbance of residents. It may well be that the level of disruption is so high that this scheme should not be built.
I have asked for a construction management plan for this site but it has not been produced. For this reason, I have formally objected to this scheme.
There have been several objections to this development from neighbours but I am not sure that most people know the full implications of what is proposed.
My main concern with this scheme is its construction. How are the contractors going to access the site? I do not think that access from Old Street is appropriate. This is a busy pedestrian route for children and elderly people. There would be a considerable inconvenience for residents.
Access from Friars Gardens will lead to the loss of car parking, which is at premium in the evenings and at weekends. Where will site materials be stored? How will concrete, trusses and other materials be delivered? How will waste be taken off site and where would any skips be parked? How will materials be transferred across Friars Walk? How will the safety of users of Friars Walk and Friars Garden be guaranteed?
I would strongly oppose any closure of Friars Walk. Closure of this busy pedestrian thoroughfare would be a serious inconvenience to residents, schoolchildren and parents. People from Old Street who struggle with mobility will be forced to travel 850 metres up and down hill to get to the Bishop Mascall Centre, instead of the 270 metres on the level along Friars Walk.
This site needs a tight construction management plan. We need to know what plans the developers have for pedestrian and cycle access. We must know just how construction traffic will access this site. The plan should include liaison with residents affected by the construction works and restrictions on the area that can be used for skips and other storage. We should have the plan in writing before any approval of this scheme. That will allow residents to comment on whether it is feasible.
If the development does go ahead, construction should be limited to 8.30 to 5.30 Monday to Friday, with no bank holiday or weekend working. It would be best if construction took place out of school term.
I asked for such a construction management plan three weeks ago but Shropshire Council seems disinterested in pursuing this. I fear it wants to approve the development and work out how it will be constructed afterwards. That is not good enough for a cramped historic town like ours or a difficult to construct site like this.
Turning to the principle of development, this is not open space in planning terms. It is a private garden. I would prefer it not to be developed. But that doesn’t amount to a reason for refusal under the current planning regime.
The developer does not provide a view of the site from Friars Gardens. The image below is a very rough montage to give an impression of scale.
Generally, I am in favour of densification in the town centre. I don’t think this application is over development. Over development places strains on services or damages local amenity and character. The loss of garden space does some damage to local character, particularly the open vista from the bottom of Friars Garden. But two new families moving into our town will not strain local services.
Parking is always a vexed matter in this town. Under planning rules, it is very difficult turn down a scheme on the grounds of insufficient parking. It is obvious that the owners of these houses will park at the end of Friars Garden.
Although I am not against this scheme in principle, but I think its construction will lead to unwarranted disruption for the local community.
I have asked for this application to be considered by the South Planning Committee.