In August of this year we highlighted the threat to Old Oswestry, “… an early Iron Age hill fort in the Welsh Marches near Oswestry in north west Shropshire. It was designated as a scheduled monument (number 27556) in 1997 and is now in the guardianship of English Heritage. After the hillfort was abandoned it was incorporated into Wat’s Dyke, and two sections of this are adjacent to it.” In today’s Observer, Jamie Doward reports that –
…in what critics say is a result of the government’s new planning policy, proposals have been drawn up to build almost 200 luxury homes next to the ancient site, angering local residents and heritage groups. Some 6,000 people have signed a petition opposing the development, part of the county council’s plan to build 2,600 homes by 2026 to comply with government targets.
One of 25 hill forts in Shropshire, Old Oswestry has a series of perimeter ditches, formed between ramparts, that were designed to slow down attackers. An archaeological survey in 2010 found man-made structures in fields to the north-east of the fort. Two years ago the discovery of an iron age road, thought to connect The Wrekin, near Telford, with fields near the site, indicated that there was likely to be important evidence of past cultures buried under the soil.
English Heritage, which describes Old Oswestry as “a site of great national importance, one that helps to define our national story and identity”, has joined Oswestry town council in opposing the scheme, which locals say will do little to ease housing problems. They claim that the 188 homes planned for up to three sites around the fort will be expensive, low-risk developments “for affluent commuters, rich retirees, country retreat investors and holiday cottage landlords”. The development will be studied closely by the likes of the National Trust, which has warned that the government’s new “pro-development” planning framework will result in a glut of upmarket homes being built on greenfield sites because these offer the best returns for construction firms.