THE CAMPAIGN: This is urgent. Shropshire Council is trying to push through grandiose plans to build a HUGE residential and industrial development on Bridgnorth's Greenbelt. Public awareness is low, people simply don't know about the plans or the damage it will do to our beautiful town and its glorious countryside. So far, nobody is stopping them - not your Town Council, not your Parish Council, not your MP - no one. This is why a public awareness campaign is so vital and why we need your help.
Shropshire Council want to concrete over our greenbelt. They are planning to double the size of Bridgnorth and dump thousands of houses for West Midlands overspill on our doorstep. Unless we stop them, it will wreck Bridgnorth forever.
Powerful developers, local councillors, and ££££ are involved - landowners stand to make £135-£150 million from this development. But it’s not a done deal – if we all speak up now, we can force them to think again. The Greenbelt exists for very good reasons. To protect the special historic character of Bridgnorth and surrounding villages. To keep our precious countryside open and green. To stop urban sprawl.
This is our home. This is our greenbelt. It’s not for sale.
If we're going to stop this madness, then we need your help! We need to let everyone know what they're planning, and shout from the rooftops the ways in which local people can get behind our campaign, take action, and tell the council, with one, loud voice, that we say NO!
WHAT DO WE NEED?
Save Bridgnorth Greenbelt group have been working hard all winter, gathering information, networking, researching, collating vast amounts of data, digging through thousands of documents, talking to experts, so we can fight back against this unwanted and unneeded development. We now urgently need to run a public awareness raising campaign through the summer and autumn to let everyone in Bridgnorth, and in Worfield & Rudge Parish, know what's happening, give our communities the facts, and show them how to TAKE ACTION. These initiatives will provide a solid platform for informed debate when the second stage of the public consultation rolls out in the late autumn - we need to get as many people as possible to fill it in. We've already raised an incredible £1,500 through direct donations at our public meetings, people are keen to help, but we've got no time to waste, time is running out!
This is where you come in, every single donation, large or small, every penny, will be put to good use. With your help to reach our target, we can:
- Make as much noise as possible and ensure the light of scrutiny is shone on Shropshire Council - Democratically Elected Representatives and Public Servants have a duty to be publicly accountable - the louder we shout, the less they can hide in unminuted meetings and behind jargon packed waffle
- Host public meetings, in Bridgnorth and Worfield, in the autumn, so that people know what action they can take - forget the Council's "spin", to find out what's really going on the public need to hear what we've uncovered
- Keep circulating our survey (we've already delivered 8,000 door to door) - accurate data on local residents' views, for or against, is absolutely crucial in when challenging these plans, to really make an impact we need more than 1,000 replies
- Print tens of thousands more flyers, leaflets, booklets, and surveys and deliver them to every household, letting people know what action they can take
- Create a step by step consultation guide, in print and online, helping people navigate the confusing public consultation process, to make sure local voices are heard
- Kit out teams of volunteers in branded sweatshirts and Tshirts as they go out into the community and spread the word
- Have a stand at the Bridgnorth Carnival, hire stalls and stands at local events over the summer (e.g. High Street market, Burwarton Show)
- Create two or three professionally edited short videos, send them viral on social media, and get them on TV, to ensure people understand what we stand to lose if the council force this through
- Upgrade our website, and make it as user friendly and informative as possible
- Create specially designed social media adverts, and pay to boost them for maximum reach
- Buy adverts in the Shropshire Star and Bridgnorth Journal as the consultation draws near
- Print car stickers, banners and signs for roadsides, buildings, protests etc
- Engage the services of a professional planning consultant to review our data and help us fine tune our strategy
- Commission a professional ecological survey of the entire site, so that we properly understand the environmental, ecological and sustainability impact of the plans - we already know that the site is home to ancient woodland, rare bats and trees, owls, badgers, newts, and miles of veteran hedges
- Keep this issue in the media - print, radio and TV
- Plus one or two hard-hitting little surprises that we are keeping secret for now!
We are a small team of volunteers, everybody is giving their time for free, working around kids and jobs and families. We also have many professionals in our network willing to donate their expertise free of charge (we have writers, fundraisers, surveyors, scientists, planning experts, business people, designers, etc). Funds raised will be used solely to cover the costs of producing materials necessary to run the campaign. Almost all materials will be provided at cost, local suppliers are keen to help us, they just need to cover their outlay.
WHAT IS SHROPSHIRE COUNCIL DOING? It’s planning a massive housing and industrial development bigger than High Town, bigger than Perton, on 410 acres of greenbelt along both sides of the Stanmore straight and down to Swancote; that’s bigger than 310 football pitches! It’s agreed to make us a “dumping ground” for Black Country overspill. Yet Telford & Wrekin Council refused overspill because there’s no evidence the Black Country has run out of land. What on earth is going on?
THERE IS NO GOOD REASON FOR IT
It doesn’t meet the strict “exceptional circumstances” for building in the greenbelt. Their justifications are weak. Bridgnorth does not need it. Businesses do not need it. It will impact tourism, key to Bridgnorth’s economy.
BRIDGNORTH CAN'T COPE
It won’t provide the sustainable resilient future Bridgnorth needs. Our town will double in size, with up to 2,500 more houses, an estimated 6,000 more people, 3,000 more cars but no infrastructure guarantees. Our schools, hospital, doctors, roads, services, parking, sewage etc will be overwhelmed.
IT'S ENVIRONMENTAL VANDALISM
Our countryside is our ‘green lungs’. We already have illegal levels of air pollution; this development will massively increase CO2 emissions. Established woodland and other important habitats for plants and animals will be destroyed; fertile farmland and ancient trees are threatened. A sizeable part of the country park will be lost, turned into a carpark.
THE COUNCIL IS NOT LISTENING
Despite growing outrage, they think they can ignore us, ignore the rules, ignore democracy, ignore what Bridgnorth really needs to thrive. We must all complain, tell them this plan is unsound. Bridgnorth deserves better, we must say what we want and need. And people can't do that unless they know about the plans, and know that there is still time to say 'no'. That's what this campaign is all about.
WHO ARE WE?
We are a group of ordinary residents from the Stanmore area. We set up the “Save Bridgnorth Green Belt” Group to urgently fight these proposals by Shropshire Council. We are working extremely hard to keep this issue in the press, putting pressure on the council to explain their justifications (they can't), and networking with businesses, councillors, our MP Phillip Dunne, Shifnal's MP Mark Pritchard, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Woodland Trust, the Wildlife Trust, and other local and national organisations, as well as other greenbelt groups in East Shropshire. The Bridgnorth plans form part of a wider strategy by the council to take land out of the greenbelt to build an unprecedented number of homes in East Shropshire. Greenbelt groups across the area think these plans do not stand up to scrutiny. The Council’s proposed plans for Bridgnorth can be found at https://shropshire.gov.uk/get-involved/local-plan-review-preferred-sites-consultation/ You can find out more about us, and read our constitution HERE.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
This is not a NIMBY protest, we are not against any and all development, we are FOR carefully evidenced, proportionate development, that is actually designed to meet the needs of our lovely town and its population. There is not an official statistic in existence that proves our town and countryside needs this aggressive level of development! There are important principles at stake here too: democracy, accountability, honesty, integrity, and genuine public consultation. They seem to think this is a 'done deal'.
We need to tell them to think again!
So concerned were our local MPs - Phillip Dunne and Mark Pritchard - they requested a private members debate with the Minister of State for Housing and Planning to ask him specifically about Shropshire Council's aggressive plans to remove huge swathes of land from the Greenbelt all across East Shropshire. It was a blistering attack o Shropshire Council's planners, and you can read the Hansard Transcript here. The Minister said, "The best plans are those that have been developed through effective engagement with communities throughout the process".
Shropshire Council talk a good game about 'consultation' but the reality is they are not listening. Do you feel 'effectively engaged' with??? No, we didn't think so! They produce reams of fancy looking documents, packed with complicated jargon and planning speak, but when you drill down into it, the justifications are simply not there. As a council member told a local committee, with a straight face, "The council are boracic lint [skint] and we can't think where else to put it".
We say Bridgnorth deserves way better than that!
Landowners stand to make at least £135 million from this development. Shropshire Council has huge incentives to do this too: they are £27m in the red, and they stand to make a fortune from the Government’s New Homes Bonus, the community infrastructure levy, and more council tax/business rates, and deals for overspill. However, there is no guarantee that the money they would raise from new homes would be spent in Bridgnorth. At the public meeting in Bridgnorth, the Council’s planners could not and would not guarantee that the proposed development will benefit Bridgnorth or Stanmore. This unprecedented land grab, against the wishes of local people, does not take into consideration the needs of Bridgnorth, or the needs of Stanmore and surrounding areas, or the massive negative impact this will have on the landscape, wildlife, local communities or historic Bridgnorth. There is particular disquiet about the loss of the much-loved Stanmore Country Park – ironically, compulsorily purchased with £1.2m of public money, for public use, by the Council some years ago to safeguard the Green Belt – and the threat to ancient woodland that forms the coppice along Hermitage Ridge.
We have to all speak up now, we have to talk to our friends and neighbours, let everyone know what's happening, and make sure they understand what they can do to stop it.
Everything you need to get involved is on our website
Thank you for joining the struggle to protect Bridgnorth's Greenbelt. Help us get the message out there, for the sake of our town, our countryside, our environment, and for our children and grandchildren!