The housing association conglomerate Connexus has submitted a new application for five bungalows on the green space between Sidney Road and Charlton Rise. A previous application for five bungalows on this site was rejected by a majority at a South Planning Committee meeting a couple of months ago. The plans are different in detail but not in principle. The temporary tree protection orders on the trees on the green have expired. That means the remaining Norway Maple and other trees can be felled at will.
This site has an unhappy history. The first plans for development were drawn up by architects at the beginning of 2016. That means they must have been instructed in 2015. The first most people knew about the threat to the green was when South Shropshire Housing Association felled a tree without notice. Faced with a backlash – residents and councillors were furious and I threatened to tie myself to the remaining tree – the tree felling was halted. The housing association then attempted to misinform us. It said the felling of the 100% healthy tree was to “mitigate costs to residents” of its maintenance. There was no acknowledgement that the trees had been planted nearly 40 years ago after a fund raiser among Sidney Road residents by the mayor. And no acknowledgement that the housing association had already drawn up plans that required felling of both Norway Maples.
Just weeks later, we heard of plans for seven bungalows on what many regard as a community green. These were met with a wall of objection. They were shortly replaced by plans for five bungalows. With one dissenter, this plan was thrown out by the South Planning Committee on 1 August.
Now the plans are back (17/05170/FUL). They are tweaked rather than changed. The parking area in Sidney Road, which would have conflicted with the bus stop, has been replaced with a bin collection area. Narrow gardens are planned on the side of the bungalows facing the remaining green. This will reduce the expose of residents’ front doors to passing pedestrians, not all of whom will be sober, during the day and late at night.
Beyond that, the plans are much the same. The Norway Maple still gets the chop.
None of the trees on the green are now protected by tree protection orders after the temporary six month protection order expired. There is an urgent need for a community campaign to get TPOs reinstated.
This development will provide much needed affordable bungalows. But the loss of a significant tree and much of the community green counts against the scheme. This is going to be a difficult application for the South Planning Committee to get the planning balance right.
. South Shropshire Housing Association has been absorbed into a bigger organisation known as Connexus.