THE successful appeal to allow Wem’s Edinburgh House to be turned into housing will be ‘a disaster for the town’, according to a campaign group.

Wem Area Climate Action (WACA) had opposed the application for 28 new dwellings, which was refused by Shropshire Council last year but overturned by Government inspectors in January.

The building belonged to Connexus – formerly Meres and Mosses Housing Association – after it was sold in 2013 but for the last decade, it had housed Wem Town Council, West Mercia Police and the housing firm.


Malcom Adkins, chairman of WACA, said the loss of employment space, plus the extra carbon released by both knocking down and rebuilding of housing, is a dark day for Wem.

“It’s a disaster for Wem from a group who don’t give a fig for the town,” he said.

“What the inspector has done by agreeing to the appeal, on dubious grounds, is not make this situation any better.

“I think it’s more of a national issue.  

“I want this story to get out to make people know that there’s something odd going on and the way the Inspectorate has responded is even worse on the employment side.

“Connexus should have advertised for people to go into it over an extended period and they haven’t done and the Inspectorate said they haven’t.

“But the Inspectorate said ‘it doesn’t matter’ because when Shropshire Council sold it to Meres and Mosses, they effectively sold it for housing.

“They didn’t – it was sold to them as an office centre for Meres and Mosses so the Inspector is wrong.

“If there was the ability to go to appeal then I think that’s what we would do and I suspect the Shropshire planners would do too.

“It’s a very odd decision – I don’t want to this sort of decision to be carried on being made.”

Edward Towers, independent Shropshire Council member for Wem, said he was disappointed with the appeal.

He said: “We need employment in Wem as well as housing and this is a loss of that space as they could’ve been repurposed for business start-ups.

“This is a housing association and its reason for existing is housing but they never thought to sell the land on to a commercial developer.

“They went with what they know – knock it flat and build houses – and the Inspector agreed with Shropshire and Wem councils that it wasn’t a good thing.

“But then said ‘you sold it to these people knowing it was a housing association so of course this is what it was going to do’.”

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Connexus said last week that there will be a community and meeting space with the new development.

A spokesman said: “The new development will provide 28 much-needed new affordable homes close to the town centre, helping to regenerate this part of the town.

“The homes will include one and two-bed apartments and two, three and four bed-houses, as well as a new community hub and meeting spaces.”