Shropshire Council planners have approved 71 new homes on the former quarry on Fishmore Road. This is a welcome scheme that will bring this long derelict eyesore into active use. The development by Shropshire Homes will be a mixture of semidetached and short terraces of houses, along with four blocks of apartments. It is probably the largest development approved in southwest Shropshire without first being considered by a planning committee. Property sizes will range from one bed apartments to three bed houses.
The development lacks a play area and affordable housing, though three homes will be sold at a discount to market price.
Shropshire Council gave outline planning permission for 74 homes on this site in 2016. It is an eyesore brownfield site that most people want to see developed. But it is not an easy site to build on. The old quarry walls at the back of the site are mudstone. The quarry was much deeper than can be seen today and a quarry face is buried below ground. Houses and roads cannot be built astride this without risk of future instability. That’s why the centre of the site is allocated for car parking.
The development will include 41 houses, 12 two-bed and 29 three-bed. Thirty one and two bedroom flats will be built in four apartment blocks up to three stories high. No affordable housing will be provided because of the cost of developing the site. But if the developer makes more than 20% profit, Shropshire Council will claim the extra for its affordable housing fund through an overage agreement. But three homes will be sold as discount market housing. I assume this will be 80% of the market price.
The approved plans show 112 car parking spaces. It is disappointing that 15 of these exit directly onto Fishmore Road preventing long established parking in much of the layby. This is used by residents north of this site who do not have off-street parking spaces. Shropshire Council is advising, but not insisting, that EV charging points are installed.
The outline planning application put in place conditions that insist the developer improves the mini-roundabout on Fishmore Road and makes “provision of a scheme of uncontrolled pedestrian crossing points between the site access and the junction of Bromfield Road and Corve Street, incorporating the New Road arm of the mini-roundabout as necessary.” We will not know details of these essential improvements until designs are submitted.
The quarry face is designated an “environment network”. At its base will be a two metre high rock retention fence. No details of the fence or maintenance of the environmental network have yet been provided. The environment network will be inaccessible to residents. The only amenity area residents can use will be one-third hectare area (roughly half of a football pitch) towards the back of the site. This will be planted with thirteen trees, seven common plum and six crab apple. It is not a play area. Parents and children will have to travel half a kilometre to Fishmore View play area. Children allowed to play independently will no doubt kick a football around on the estate road adjacent to the car park.
This lack of play space may be resolved by the adjacent development on the former Whittle Depot. I have seen the concept for this site and it is expected include amenity space. But new plans have yet to be submitted. It would have been helpful if the two sites had been designed together but there is no such thing as joined up planning and place shaping anymore.
A further eighteen trees will be planted. Nine will be Himalayan Birch, which as its name suggests is native to the Himalayas. They will be accompanied by five ornamental pears, which are native to China and Vietnam. The developer will also be also be planting a further four crab apples and a range of native shrubs and ground cover. It is high time that Shropshire Council had a planning policy that insisted on planting of native trees, unless a case is made for non-native species.
To prevent flash flooding, a buried hydrobrake chamber will collect storm water and release it slowly.