Penybryn residents have reacted angrily to the news of the potential Star Housing development at the top of Penybryn Avenue. The plans are to build 24 homes – 10 of which are bungalows. Star Housing plans to build here as an ‘exception’ site. However, not all exception sites are equal. I support providing affordable homes on exception sites. Particularly if they are Community Led Housing Schemes. However, these schemes need to be in good sustainable locations. However, housing should always be part of a strategic approach to future growth.
Housing growth needs to help fix traffic problems in the village, not add to them.
There are many persistent issues in Whittington which always come up. Namely, traffic, speeding, pedestrian safety, traffic and more speeding. Shropshire Council is currently allocating sites in their local plan. Details are left to individual developers without any thought or planning for the overall impact. Housing growth needs to all fit within a pattern of growth that is coordinated and sustainable. Roads and infrastructure need planning in advance, not as an afterthought. Housing growth needs to help fix problems in the village, not add to them.
The Star Housing site is numbered WHN004 on the above map. The numbering comes from Shropshire Council Strategic Land Availability Assessment (SLAA). All of the above sites were graded as sites with long-term housing potential in 2019. For more on the SLAA and the current local plan consultation and how the Government’s White paper all have a bearing see:
- Strategic Land Availability Assessment (SLAA)
- Shropshire Council Local Plan consultation Mark II
- Planning for the Future – Planning for exclusion
Affordable homes are needed
As a trustee of an Almshouse charity, I am acutely aware of the need for more affordable homes to rent and buy. We all need more affordable homes to rent & buy. In my housing survey for Whittington, roughly 60% wanted more affordable homes to rent & buy. Over 50% wanted more bungalows. 56% said homes should have 3 bedrooms. 22% preferred 2 bedrooms. Overall 46% thought that recently built homes were too big.
The need for more affordable homes is clear but building homes in the right places is important. However, this site isn’t the right location. Shropshire Council has now decided that the village should grow to the south. This site is too far from local services. The terrain will mean more car journeys particularly for people with mobility issues. The terrain, the flooding and the ecology all make it more expensive and less practical to build upon.
Penybryn residents have been contacting me for weeks on social media on here about the development. They aren’t happy with the proposals at all. See also this Oswestry Advertiser article: ‘Too much traffic’: One Whittington resident’s call to Shropshire to stop potential development. The headline belittles the level of feeling somewhat. Penybryn residents have carried out a petition, which was well supported with nearly 200 signatures.
Penybryn residents also have conducted a traffic survey that counted 2765 traffic movements during their 4 & 1/2 hours traffic survey. This new development could add at least a further 140 traffic movements a day to the estate and the busy junction with Ellesmere Road.
Ellesmere Road Speed Survey
I undertook a separate speed survey after hearing about the concerns of Penybryn residents at the end of August. My survey was carried out in ‘normal free flow’ traffic conditions to obtain a representative sample of traffic.
- 40% of the traffic was driving faster than the speed limit.
- 35% were driving faster than 34mph – despite the flashing speed sign.
- The highest speed was 66mph which was a vehicle heading towards Ellesmere.
SLAA, Local plan and White Paper implications
Currently, Shropshire Council is reviewing its local plan. If this site is developed it will make it more likely that the adjacent SLAA sites will be infilled – adding to the traffic problems on Top Street. Both ends of Top Street have poor visibility and aren’t suitable for any increase in traffic. The local plan has allocated a large number of houses – 30,800 to be built by 2038. This is far too ambitious. If they undershoot then it will be open season on SLAA sites where they will stand a far great chance of winning planning permission – as there will be an unmet housing need. Shropshire Council already has form for this. They didn’t have a 5-year land supply which meant loads of sites won planning permission on appeal.
The Government White Paper should also worry residents of Top Street. The white paper plans to remove local input from the planning process. It also presents a real risk that SLAA sites will be graded as ‘Growth’ sites – ‘Growth’ sites would automatically be given outline planning permission without any public consultation. It is also of note that Shropshire Council assessed the viability of SLAA sites without any public consultation.