Reynolds Wharf is a private street of 42 homes in Coalport. Management company Premiere Estates Ltd applied to relay the road, arguing the current buff-coloured surface had “failed” and black tarmac would be a good value replacement.
That was rejected by Telford and Wrekin Council in January, and a Government-appointed inspector has dismissed the company’s appeal.
The Planning Inspectorate decision notice agrees with the authority that “the existing surface has the character and appearance of an informal historic track”, and changing it would harm the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site (IGWHS) and Severn Gorge Conservation Area (SGCA) it sits in.
In a statement supporting the application, submitted in November 2020, Shrewsbury-based planning agent Julian Record said the surface was originally laid at the time Reynolds Wharf was built, and “appears to be a pale aggregate rolled onto a thin layer of black bitumen”.
“The surface finish has failed,” Mr Record wrote.
“The proposal is to remove the existing dilapidated finish and resurface the road with a 40-millimetre thick black hot rolled stone mastic asphalt wearing course with 10mm chippings.
“This is the most hard-wearing and cost-effective solution.”
He estimated the cost would be nearly £40,000 after tax and fees. Coloured tarmac or resin-bound gravel would cost nearly £70,000 by comparison, he added.
The Planning Inspectorate decision notice says: “The appeal site lies within the IGWHS and the SGCA and is within proximity of the listed Grade II* former Coalport Chinaworks and Grade II listed premises formerly occupied by the Nunway Manufacturing Company.”
It notes that the “relatively short” access road from Coalport High Street has a black tarmac surface, but the nearby youth hostel and Chinaworks museum car parks are “lighter, and the material used has a looser appearance than black taracadam”.
“I agree with the council that the existing surface of the private road has the character and appearance of an informal historic track and that the road is an integral part of the overall design of the residential development, which complements it and is in keeping with the surroundings,” the report says.
While the Planning Inspectorate acknowledges newly-laid black tarmac would lighten over time, it believes “the use of such a modern material would detract from the industrial origins of the area, which would be harmful to the character and appearance of the area”.