CLP response to

Regulation 18 consultation, Snatchfield Farm

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This response summarises the views of a large sample of residents of the town about the AONB countryside surrounding Church Stretton. In Question 2 the response is pinned to the proposal to develop land at Snatchfield Farm but it runs much wider because it is concerned with the countryside of the AONB. It is therefore relevant to DP26, paragraph 4.227 & 4.228.

Three recent surveys revealed residents’ views on the countryside of the AONB; they are:

  •  A survey of young people at Church Stretton secondary school.

  •  A survey of Church Stretton primary school children.

  •  A survey of households in Church Stretton.

In 2018 the Town Council, in preparation for setting up the Steering Group of the Community Led Plan (CLP), funded the Church Stretton Youth Council to conduct an opinion survey of pupils at the secondary school. They received 438 responses of whom 110 live in the Church Stretton parish area. The survey posed five open ended questions, one of them being ‘What is the best thing about where you live’. The responses designated themes such as Shops, Cafes and restaurants, Parks, Friends nearby, Friendly community, but the leading theme was Beautiful countryside: 106 of the 110 local pupils responded and 60 of them commented on the beautiful countryside and scenery surrounding the town. This was by far the most popular theme of the survey.


Early in 2020 the Steering Group of the CLP invited St Lawrence primary school to conduct a survey of their pupils; the school called the survey Children’s Voices because it covered those aged 6 to 10 years. 197 written responses were collected and analysed: the children worked in small groups (4-5 children) and classes to discuss and then represent their views on the question ‘What do you value in your local community’ The most important topic that emerged was ‘The hills, nature and Cardingmill Valley’; 30% chose this topic out of 12 themes as being the one they most valued. Parks and play areas was their second most popular topic.

 


The Survey of Household was compiled in April 2020, i.e. before the current Regulation 18 consultation, as part of a household survey carried out by the Steering Group of Church Stretton Community Led Plan. Of 2440 households 878 (36%) replied to the survey. Part of the survey listed 18 topics, including Town Appearance, Housing Needs, Transport, Job Opportunities, Activities for Young People, Countryside, Shopping and asked people to rank them in order of priority and to say if improvements were needed.
People were asked to prioritise the topics; their priorities were analysed for the whole sample, for households with children and for households with a young adult aged 18 -24 residing.

 


Countryside & Nature, e.g. Shropshire Hills AONB, wildlife, woodland
This appeared as a top priority from the full sample, for households with children and for households with young adults. This topic received far more responses than any other from the question ‘What we most want to conserve’ (322 or 41%). Many comments made reference to the importance of protecting the landscape of the hills on both side of the valley, the woodlands and nature reserves from development, as well as the remaining green countryside in the valley separating the villages of Little Stretton and All Stretton from the town of Church Stretton.

People want the beautiful landscape preserved both for residents and tourism. Tourism is recognised as important for creating job opportunities and supporting the local economy.

 

 

Many made comments about the beauty of the countryside being spoiled by housing/commerce developments.

Below are some of the comments:

  • ‘Preserving the boundaries of our AONB. To conserve the natural beauty of the area for future generations’.

  • ‘Tourism is our heart; therefore, we need to ensure that the hills/walks are preserved intact. That is what they come for. The country must not be spoiled by housing/commerce’.

  • ‘The distinction between the Strettons so that each maintains its own identity’.

  • ‘Family farms that surround the hills, which have helped to create and manage the Long Mynd and surrounding countryside’.

  • Preserve Snatchfields  (12 responses specific to CSTRO21 which had been listed as a potential Allocated Site at the previous Preferred Options stage of consultation), here is a selection:

  • ‘Snatchfield, green gateway to the Shropshire Hills’.

  • ‘Snatchfield Meadow, no inappropriate housing development’.

  • ‘AONB, local countryside, e.g. Gaerstones and Snatchfield. Panoramic views to be unspoilt by speculative building and unsightly campsites etc.’

  • ‘(Protect) the unique countryside and ensure any housing developments are small schemes on brownfield sites and not on places such as Snatchfields, which should never be developed’.

  • The Steering Group of the emerging Community Led Plan supports the views of townspeople who are opposed to large scale housing developments in the AONB and specifically to designating Snatchfield Farm (CSTRO21) as an Allocated site.

  • The proposal to build a major housing development at Snatchfield Farm is clearly in conflict with the guiding principle in paragraph 172 of the NPPF:

  • ‘ Great weight should be given to conserve and enhance landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, the Broads and AONBs which have the highest status of protection in relation to these issues’.