Shropshire Council

Whitchurch and surrounding area

Place plans were developed to include a main centre (often a market town) and its surrounding smaller towns, villages, and rural hinterland. These areas are recognised in the Local Plan as functioning geographical areas, with strong linkages to and from the main town and the wider area.

The Whitchurch and Surrounding Area Place Plan covers the area identified within the red outline on the map image on this page. It summarises and prioritises the local infrastructure needs which are required to support the sustainable development of the area, and identifies the wider investment needs to assist delivery of the community’s vision and aspirations. 

Data and information review

The infrastructure project list is based on information submitted to us by town and parish councils in each plan area. This information is then tested against data held by us, and further informed by consultation with a range of infrastructure providers.

By gathering this information, we've been able to understand more clearly the needs of each place plan area and use this information to make some difficult decisions about prioritisation of projects.

Key infrastructure issues

A review of information for this area has shown that key infrastructure issues are:

  • Provision of drainage and utilities to unlock two significant employment and housing sites in Whitchurch
  • Improving links to/from Crewe and to/from HS2
  • Upgrades to utilities across the area, including electricity supply and sewerage network capacity works
  • Potential development of Digital Innovation and Enterprise Park at Whitchurch town
  • Provision of additional school places to cater for development-led demand
  • Affordable housing development linked to development of strategic infrastructure sites

Projects

Several projects have been identified and prioritised for the area. You can find the details for each project in the plan which is attached to this page to view or download.

This area in the countywide plan

Core Strategy

The Core Strategyas referenced at section 2.1recognises the role of Shropshire’s market towns and key centres through Policy CS3. This policy outlines how all of our towns have distinctive identities, which new development is expected to reinforce, by respecting each town’s distinctive character, and by being sensitive to its landscape setting, historic features, and the towns’ functions. You can read more from Policy CS3 on our planning policy pages.   

For Whitchurch, Policy CS3 recognises that:

  • Whitchurch will have substantial development, recognising its accessible location on the highway and rail network, maintaining and enhancing its vibrant town centre and balancing business and housing development.
  • Whitchurch (population 8,700) is close to the Cheshire and Wrexham County Borough boundaries, in particular, the towns of Wrexham, Nantwich and Crewe.
  • Whitchurch benefits from a railway station on the Shrewsbury-Crewe line.
  • The town has a thriving town centre and has the benefit of A49 and A525 bypasses around the town.
  • The Whitchurch arm of the Llangollen branch of the Shropshire Union Canal is an important tourist facility bringing visitors to the town.

SAMDev policies

The SAMDev Plan also provides brief settlement policies for each area. You can read more from the SAMDev Plan on our planning policy web pages.

The policies for Whitchurch, and then for the wider area, are as follows:

  • Whitchurch will provide a focus for development in North East Shropshire and with a guideline of around 1,200 dwellings and around 26 hectares of employment land in the period 2006-2026.
  • New housing development will be delivered primarily on the allocated housing sites, alongside additional infill and windfall development within the town’s development boundary.
  • New employment development will be delivered primarily on the allocated employment sites, alongside other appropriate brownfield opportunities within the town’s development boundary.
  • To support Whitchurch’s role as a principal centre, new main town centre uses will be focused within the defined town centre area and primary shopping area.
  • Mitigation measures will be required to remove any adverse effects from development in Whitchurch on the integrity of SAC/Ramsar sites at Fenns, Whixall, Bettisfield, Wem and Cadney Mosses and Brown Moss.
  • Development proposals will be expected to take account of infrastructure constraints and requirements, particularly in relation to the need for upgrades to the wastewater treatment works and positively contribute towards local infrastructure improvements.
  • In the wider Whitchurch area, developments that contribute to the area’s economy are encouraged and proposals for small scale office, workshop and light industrial uses and expansion of existing businesses will be supported where they are well located and well suited to employment use.

Local Plan Review

We started reviewing our Local Plan in 2017 and recently consulted on the preferred sites which are needed to meet the county’s development needs during the period to 2036. The new plan is unlikely to be adopted before 2021. The review will ensure that the Local Plan continues to be the primary consideration for decisions about development in Shropshire by maintaining robust and defensible policies that conform with national policy and address the changing circumstances within the county and beyond. 

Key points from the Local Plan review include:

  • Whitchurch will act as a principal Centre and contribute towards the strategic growth objectives in the north-east of the county.
  • The Local Plan Review seeks to achieve balanced housing and employment growth within Whitchurch, through the provision of around 1,600 dwellings and around 17 hectares of employment development between 2016 and 2036.
  • In the first year of the Plan period (2016-2017) 90 dwellings were completed and a further 956 dwellings were committed through planning permission, prior approval or site allocation.
  • There is a very significant committed site at Tilstock Road already allocated in the current SAMDev Plan which will provide around 500 dwellings. The proposed strategy focusses on delivery of a range of medium sized development sites to provide options which complement delivery of the Tilstock Road site, whilst ensuring the benefits and impacts of development are spread out.
  • Two significant employment allocations are still to be delivered at Waymills and Heath Road which make up around 20 hectares. It is therefore not proposed to allocate additional employment land subject to an employment land review.
  • Over the period to 2036, it is considered that Prees Community Hub should provide around an additional 64 dwellings to supplement the existing committed sites. This level of additional growth will provide an opportunity to deliver a range of accommodation types to help meet local housing needs and support investment in community facilities and infrastructure improvements where these are required as a result of development.

More about Whitchurch

Whitchurch is the northern most market town in Shropshire located on the border of Cheshire and Wales. The town has been inhabited since Roman times and is a thriving market town.

This North Shropshire market town has many buildings dating from Medieval, Tudor and Georgian times. Whitchurch is reputed to be the oldest continually inhabited towns in the county. Within the town is the wooded Victoria Jubilee Park and picturesque Memorial Garden.

Named Mediolanum by the Romans and chosen for its strategic location, Whitchurch soon had legions passing through to reach the outposts of Roman Britain. The town was the heart of the roman road network, a fact reflected today, and one that makes Whitchurch so central and accessible for visitors.

The Whitchurch firm of J B Joyce (tower clock makers) was established in 1690. Whitchurch Heritage Centre hosts information on J B Joyce for visitors. These clocks have an international reputation and can be found on cathedrals and palaces from Singapore to Kabul. Many examples of Joyce’s work can be seen around the town making Whitchurch the home of Tower Clocks.

The town is surrounded by beautiful countryside and there are walks along the north Shropshire canals to Grindley Brook and through the Whitchurch Waterways County Park, also a haven for wildlife and containing Greenfields Nature Reserve managed by The Wildlife Trust.

List of parishes and local elected members

This plan covers the following Town and Parish Councils:

The following Shropshire Council elected members represent constituencies within this area:

  • Councillor Thomas Biggins (Whitchurch North Ward)
  • Councillor Gerald Dakin (Whitchurch South Ward)
  • Councillor Peggy Mullock (Whitchurch North Ward)
  • Councillor Paul Wynn (Prees Ward)

You can view each councillor's profile on the 'Your Councillor' section of our Committee Services web pages.

Other local plans

When developing the place plan for an area, we also look at any other local plans and strategies that focus on infrastructure needs within this particular area. 

For Whitchurch and the surrounding area, the relevant plans include:

Community led or parish plans

Local Economic Growth Strategy for Whitchurch

In October 2017, we published its Economic Growth Strategy for 2017-2021. One of the key actions identified within the Strategy was the development of a local growth strategy for each of our key market towns. The Whitchurch Local Economic Growth Strategy (LEGS) has been prepared in conjunction with a range of stakeholders, including the town council, surrounding parish councils, and local businesses. The intention is that strategy is not just confined to the town itself but also takes in the wider hinterland. 

This document supports the Whitchurch LEGS by identifying infrastructure needs within the area, which in turn will help to create the conditions and environment that attracts people and business to the area.

The economic vision for Whitchurch has been formed collaboratively and informed by engagement with the town and parishes. The vision is:

‘The vision for Whitchurch is one of sustainable growth, capitalising on its assets and being open to development opportunities to re-balance the economy and reduce out commuting. To be a place renowned for its high skilled jobs and its ability to attract investment for large scale infrastructure projects, whilst also supporting the vibrancy of its thriving town centre’.

A number of key themes were raised as part of the engagement with local stakeholders and these are addressed within the Whitchurch LEGS. In summary, the key themes are:

  • Provision of more accommodation to attract visitors
  • Improvements to infrastructure, particularly around the railway and access to the southbound platform
  • Aspiration for a digital/innovation business park
  • Explore viability of a Business Improvement District and associated shop local campaigns
  • Capitalising on strategic location and good transport links
  • Making Whitchurch attractive to business
  • Opportunities to promote the town as a destination
  • Looking at car parking provision and viability
  • Ensuring the future sustainability and viability of the town through succession planning with businesses and community leaders.
  • Re-balancing the higher than average commute out with more employment opportunities