Old Oswestry Hillfort: Position Statement
The Iron Age Old Oswestry Hillfort is a monument of national importance. For over a decade Historic England, (previously English Heritage), has consistently expressed its concerns over proposed development sites within the setting of the hillfort and we have worked with Shropshire Council to find ways to reduce the impact of new homes on its significance. This is a very complex and sensitive case, but the following is an overview of our involvement.
You can see a full copy of our most recent advice letter to Shropshire Council here:
In 2014 Shropshire Council’s land allocation proposals, to provide sites for different types of development, were the subject of a lengthy public process, including an ‘Examination in Public’ by a Planning Inspector. Following our objections to early proposals, the large majority of the area initially proposed for development to the south-east of Old Oswestry Hillfort was removed, reducing it down to three sites. We continued to object to two of these sites lying nearest to the hillfort and they were eventually also dropped from the Council’s Plan. We also negotiated a significant reduction in the proposed size of a third site, named OSW004. From the hillfort this site is seen alongside the existing town development of Oswestry and is partly screened by existing development.
Statement of Common Ground
We recognise that this is a sensitive development location and we have long been concerned about numbers of houses and their design. This is why we agreed a Statement of Common Ground with the Council that requires any proposals for the site to be accompanied by a full analysis of their impact upon the historic environment, and how the hillfort's surroundings (its setting) contribute to its importance.
Development applications in 2019 and 2020
We responded to an application for a residential development within the allocation site OSW004 in July 2019 and expressed serious concerns, some of which were addressed in amended plans. This application was withdrawn late last year and a new application for a residential development at the same site has been submitted.
This latest proposal is an improvement on previous ones, partly because it more fully complies with the Statement of Common Ground and gives an analysis of how the plans would impact on this important historic site. It is also for a reduced number of houses, laid out in a way which would lead to a less dense development. Whilst we recognise that the development would have some impact on views towards the hillfort, from the hillfort itself this less dense development would be seen alongside the existing townscape of Oswestry. We have advised the council that the proposals would cause some harm. It is now for the council, as decision maker in the planning process, to weigh this harm against potential public benefits of the proposals.
You can see a full copy of our most recent advice letter here: