Express & Star

'Utter disgrace': Ex-councillor fumes over plans for care home on Bridgnorth car park site

A former councillor has called the planning process surrounding proposals to develop a Bridgnorth car park an "utter disgrace", while the chamber of commerce has urged residents to "rally together" with their objections.

Former town councillor Adrian Tacchi during protests in 2017 over previous proposals for Old Smithfield Car Park

LNT Care Developments wants to build a three-storey care home on Old Smithfield Car Park, which would initially result in the loss of about 150 spaces.

A planning application submitted to Shropshire Council states the 66-room home would require about 50 full-time staff, who, along with visitors, would make use of 24 dedicated parking bays.

The application comes after planning permission was granted to Ziran Land to build five retail units on the site in 2018, despite it belonging to Sainsbury's at the time, sparking protests across the town.

Bridgnorth Chamber of Commerce raised concerns to Shropshire Council about the possible sale of the car park to a care home developer in 2020, to which planning chiefs denied all knowledge.

In February 2021, Ziran Land bought the car park from Sainsbury's for £1.2 million – with LNT Care Developments listed as a beneficiary.

Adrian Tacchi, who served on Bridgnorth District Council from 2007 and then the town council for four years from its formation in 2009, called the process a "disgrace".

"I'm particularly disturbed about this piece of ground which was sold to Bridgnorth District Council under the threat of a compulsory purchase order, as it was considered much-needed for parking," Mr Tacchi said.

"Nobody would buy that ground if they weren't sure they could build on it so I ask how have they got that assurance?

"The whole thing is an utter disgrace."

Mr Tacchi also highlighted an 80-year agreement which states the land has to be used as a car park.

Steve Robbins, chairman of Bridgnorth Chamber of Commerce

Meanwhile, Bridgnorth Chamber of Commerce said that having spent £50,000 fighting the proposals in 2018, it "did not have the funds" this time around.

But Steve Robbins, chairman of the chamber, urged residents to come together and voice their objections.

"I don't think the chamber is in a position to fight this to the end," Mr Robbins said.

"It cost us about £50,000 last time and I don't think a small chamber of commerce like ourselves has got that kind of money again.

"This is really bad news and if we cannot get Shropshire Council to side with Bridgnorth and oppose this, I think it's a very gloomy-looking future.

"I would urge residents to rally together and ask their councillors how this was allowed to be kept quiet until after the elections."

Shropshire Council and Ziran Land have been contacted for comment.