Memorandum by Wellington Civic Society
Wellington Civic Society was formed in 1978
and has monitored conditions in and around Wellington for 24 years.
Our members have observed the new town since its beginnings in
Dawley in 1963. We have published 24 local books on Wellington,
Shropshire, Telford and The Wrekin County. We have supportedand
opposedthe district council and Telford Development Corporation
(TDC) at public inquiries and led a successful campaign for parish
councils within the designated area. We regard it as our function
to promote our town and make helpful suggestions to all authorities.
Wellington is a mature market town, well over
1,000 years old and the most populous town/parish in The Wrekin.
Traditionally and for several centuries, it served the mining/industrial
areas to the east and the agricultural and forested lands west,
north and south. Its commercial heart has been seriously disadvantaged
by subsidised developments in Telford centre and by policies aimed
at downgrading the traditional communities to concentrate on development
at the new centre. These policies, unfortunately, are still in
operation and frustrate our efforts.
Wellington's urban regeneration is urgently
needed. A town partnership, of which we are core/founder members,
was set up nine years ago but our cash-strapped Telford &
Wrekin Council is unable this year to provide £1,500 to help
finance the Town Coordinator, due to a perceived priority to put
right TDC mistakes, blunders and incompetence in other parts of
the area. We are incensed.
Since the 1960s overall control of development
planning has vacillated, often based on outdated academic concepts,
discredited before their introduction. Local knowledge was constantly,
arrogantly ignored and sneered at. "Experts" knew best.
Due to lack of control some work resulted in expensive jerry-building.
All this must be put right, but at whose expense? Money is coming
from land profits, enough to pay for past mistakes, but is not
available to help.
Telford's reputation for crime, debt, poverty
and social deprivation operates against communities within the
designated area to our disadvantage. Its name, like its plans,
was imposed against advice with scant regard for its communities.
No wonder we prefer to be Wellington, The Wrekin.
Our inner ring road, planned long before the
new town, was held back, then built by TDC with mistaken priorities.
It has been improved using local understanding but not at the
expense of the perpetrators. The bypass/motorway (M54), planned
in 1950s, held back, then incompetently built and needing constant
repair is a similar case.
The north of our town, at Shawbirch, was acquired
and developed by TDC, land being sold at a huge profit for private
building. The pressing need here is for public transport and contributions
to our town centre regeneration. The precursor authority, Wellington
UDC, bought land at Dothill for development, which was inherited
by the present authority but profits were diverted to other areas
There is a large brownfield site suitable for
light industrial "starter" industries. With no industry
at all in the town now, this should be developed but finance is
TDC persuaded most of the major commercial firms
in Wellington and the other mature towns to relocate in their
"town centre", often offering financial benefits. This
deliberately downgraded our town, not only by the loss of large
businesses but also by enticing customers away from the remaining
shops and offices. No wonder we need regeneration.
It is good to see government at last willing
to listen and pay attention to the problems caused by new town
developments involving mature communities. Wellington has suffered
too long from decisions made with arrogant disregard for local
conditions and people. We hope the inquiry will lead to more enlightened
central and local government policies.