Campaigners make final stand as deadline looms to save hillfort’s landscape

Campaigners are urging people to unite one more time to protect Old Oswestry hillfort’s historic setting as an eight-year fight over development reaches a climax.

Old Oswestry hillfort
Old Oswestry hillfort

The call comes as campaign group HOOOH releases guidance on objecting to the latest planning application (20/01033/EIA) to build 91 houses in the hillfort’s near landscape. The final deadline for comments is Thursday 16 April. Full details of the planning application can be viewed on the Shropshire Council website.

Among objections raised by HOOOH is that the proposal:

– Exceeds Historic England’s northern limit for development, with an estimated 40% of the built form lying outside it.

– Does not proportionately account for the very high national significance of Old Oswestry, with a resulting underestimation of the degree of harm from the OSW004 development on the hillfort’s setting and on its significance. The development proposal assesses that only ‘some’ harm will be caused, including harming 11% of views to/from the hillfort – this is ‘substantial’ given the hillfort’s national significance while representing only part of the harm/impacts. A photo montage visualising the development submitted by the developer suggests there will be a far more harmful visual impact.

– Fails to meet the SAMDev Oswestry S14.1a policy requirement for ‘pedestrian and cyclepath links to the former railway and a new footpath link between Whittington Road and Gobowen Road to improve access towards the Hill Fort’. The applicants concede in their planning statement that there are significant material issues, raised in a previous objection by the Cambrian Heritage Railways, in providing access to Gobowen Road across the railway line. Therefore, the proposal fails to deliver a key requirement of the S141a policy and fails to provide a major public benefit that gave weight to the case for the OSW004 allocation. 

HOOOH goes on to say:

“Exactly eight years since major development by Old Oswestry was first proposed, we are asking for your support once more in opposing the latest bid to build houses in the hillfort’s immediate hinterland landscape.

“This third planning application, for 91 houses, is still as large and as damaging to the significance and experience of this outstanding Iron Age hillfort and its setting as previous ones.

“Be warned:  this is likely to be our final chance to stop this widely opposed and unnecessary development. It will have very tangible, negative and irreversible impacts on a nationally important heritage landscape – entirely senseless when Oswestry has alternative sites for housing.

“We know these are hugely challenging times; we are all very rightly prioritising the protection of our families and livelihoods through this devastating COVID-19 pandemic. As you stay safe and maximise time at home, we hope you will find time to stay with this fight in protecting this fascinating hillfort and special landscape, ‘The Stonehenge of the Iron Age’. These places of calm, escape and connection with our ancestors and nature will be all the more valuable to us when we come through this awful crisis.

“While we are striving to safeguard family and friends in our community from this dangerous virus, let’s make sure that ruinous planning under cover of a national crisis does not usher through development that we have passionately opposed for almost a decade.” 

HOOOH’s guidance can be found at www.oldoswestryhillfort.co.uk

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