Oswestry architect presents alternative vision for Smithfield site


AN OSWESTRY-BORN architect is calling on major stakeholders responsible for planning decisions at the town’s Smithfield Market site to consider an alternative vision.

The site is currently the subject of a bid for planning permission for a McDonald’s restaurant, with Shropshire Council set to decide on whether to approve the application for a building and drive-thru, plus a play area.

However, Craig Marston – an architectural designer and director of Ke-design, of Oswestry and Shrewsbury – wants them to reconsider the proposed development of the site to consider his version that, he says, address housing and jobs issues.

And Mr Marston wants to bring Oswestry Town Council (BID) and the Business Improvement District on board to make his version of the proposals work for the people of Oswestry.

“Its is not that I am opposed to a McDonald’s, but the current proposal along with another drive through coffee shop, car showroom and trader counters isn’t the right development for the site,” he said.

“It will just cause traffic chaos with McDonald’s customers pulling off the by-pass in their hundreds for a quick snack and comfort break en-route to their destination.

“Shropshire Council, in collaboration with Oswestry BID and the Town Council have recently commissioned an award-winning urban regeneration firm from London to masterplan Oswestry’s regeneration and future.

“As the Smithfield site already has been earmarked for commercial use when outline planning was approved for the cinema, which obviously isn’t happening, I am guessing this site is not in their scope of works.

“But I can guarantee if they were to look at it, they would think that the current proposals are poor development that lacks vision that will have a bigger knock-on effect on the town.

“To approve the application, it will prevent an alternative and will be a waste of appointing the company to provide their expertise to create a vision and plan over ad hock development.”

Mr Marston believes any restaurant and commercial ventures would be better off being used to regenerate Mile End services, and that the Smithfield site could be used in a way that would make Oswestry a modern place to live.

He added: “The site is 10 minutes walk from the town centre with the countryside on its doorstep, and lends itself to be developed with a high-quality mixed-use scheme of modern residential with office space, creating much-needed housing as well as footfall that would utilise the town centre and local sports facilities.

“Oswestry has a housing shortage and is merging with villages like Morda to try and meet its quota.

“This would offer an alternative to developing greenfields with sprawling housing estates that require ‘the car’ to access the town centre; I can’t think of a brownfield site in Oswestry that would accommodate a quality development.”

Mr Marston mixed-used proposal for the site includes seven blocks accommodating approximately 200 1,2 and 3 bed apartments which includes affordable homes for first times buyers.

The ground floor space can accommodate a mix of live/workspace, business incubator offices for start-ups and small businesses, doctors and dental surgeries, café and bistro. A separate building accommodates a kinder garden nursery.

Vehicle access around the site is proposed for the town service bus to do a loop en-route to the town centre, along with above and underground…

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