A garage-owner’s plans to build an electic car ‘charging hub’ near Whitchurch have been dashed after planners said it was outside the town’s development boundary.

The scheme proposed by David Roberts would have seen three semi-detached houses built alongside a new charging station for 12 electric vehicles on the site of Grindley Brook Mill on the A41.

However council planners ruled that the development was unsustainable, due to the housing element being outside the town’s planned development boundaries, and they decided that knocking down what remains of the former mill site would see a heritage asset lost to the county.

The applicant, who owns the DA Roberts service station and garage in Grindley Brook said he wanted to “move with the times” by branching out into electric vehicles.

“This new venture is an extenstion of his existing line of work to ensure the longevity of the business, however, he does not have the necessary space at his current location, hence this application which will help the business move forwards into a new and changing market with a scheme that aims to help with climate change by reducing carbon emissions,” said a supporting statement by ARH Architectural Design.

Documentation submitted with the application said no alternative uses could be found for the 19th century mill building which had to all intents and purposes, the applicant said, “long been abandoned”.

“[The site] was purchased by Mr. Roberts because although the Mill itself has no future prospects, being unsuitable for conversion, the site occupies a main road position which is in an ideal location for him to preserve and develop his ongoing business which he has carefully grown since 1977,” the architect’s statement added.

But Shropshire Council’s conservation officers disagreed, saying the applicant had understated the importance of the building, adding that demolitions of other buildings on the site over the past ten years had amounted to “deliberate erosion of the canal heritage” of the area.

“The mill building represents the canal heritage history in this part of Whitchurch and although it would appear that since 2012 the rest of the buildings that formed part of the larger site have been demolished this is the last element standing,” they said.

“The mill building is considered to contribute to the overall historic significance and appearance of the area alongside the Shropshire Union Canal.

“Officers object to the demolition of the mill building as it’s loss will amount to substantial harm to the Non Designated Heritage Asset.”

Refusing the scheme, council planners said the identified harm to the heritage of the area was not outweighed by the public benefits arising from the proposal.