Councillors make recommendations for tackling poor quality building work
A group of councillors set up last November  to scrutinise longstanding concerns and complaints from residents on new housing developments has made a series of recommendations for tackling poor quality building work in the county.
Made up of members of Shropshire Council’s Place Overview Committee, the Housing Developments Task and Finish group looked at three distinct areas: building control, open spaces in developments, and completing the highways through developments.
The group’s findings and recommendations will be considered by the committee at its meeting on 6 February 2023, before being presented to the council’s Cabinet.
To conduct its review the group visited long-established, recently completed and under construction developments throughout Shrewsbury, including those in Cherry Orchard, Radbrook and Bowbrook, and received briefings from officers on housing completions, building control, and developing highways on housing estates.
They also considered accounts from groups of Shropshire residents – detailing problems encountered when buying homes on recently completed developments – and met with housing developers to understand how they work with planning and building control to build and then manage new developments.
The group’s recommendations include that Shropshire Council should always use its own building control service for its own developments or those of Shropshire Towns and Rural Housing (STAR Housing) which manages council houses in Bridgnorth and Oswestry.
It also suggests a campaign to raise awareness of building control to would-be homeowners in Shropshire, and says that building control should be included in the inductions training for new councillors.
And the group also recommends that the council recruits a dedicated planning officer with a specific remit of ensuring high-quality, coherent, biodiverse open space on new developments.
Joyce Barrow, Chair of the Place Overview Committee, said:
“At a meeting of the committee last year, concerns were raised about poor workmanship and incomplete public realm works on a recently built housing development in Shrewsbury. Members learned that these had manifested elsewhere in Shropshire,
“The task and finish group was set up to understand the specific issues that residents and builders of a newly-completed housing development might face, and where responsibility for those issues sits. We also wanted to examine the policy and legislative framework that results in these challenges for residents, housing developers, and the council, and research the extent to which these issues may exist with Shropshire.
“As a result of this work the group has made several policy recommendations that we feel will ensure that housing developments are completed fully and at pace.”
1. The group recommends that Shropshire Council:
- Should always use its own building control service for its own developments or those of STAR Housing, the council’s arms-length management organisation.
- Requests its building control and communications services collaborate to develop a plan to increase awareness of building control to would-be homeowners in Shropshire.
- Includes building control in the programme of induction training provided to elected members following all-council elections in 2025.
- Supports Cornovii Homes and STAR Housing’s work in creating their own open space management company.
- Proceeds to recruit a dedicated planning officer with a specific remit of ensuring high-quality, coherent, biodiverse open space on new developments.
- Reviews its Section 38/278 process to create a greater focus on securing legal agreements early in the planning process.
2. Task and Finish groups may be established by one of the council’s scrutiny/overview committees to conduct an in-depth review of any service, policy or issue that affects the council’s area, and which falls under the committee’s remit. They can also be set up by Cabinet or full Council.