Housing plans for green fields at Burway Lane, Ludlow should be decided by committee

An outline planning application has been lodged for the erection of five detached dwellings, one affordable, south of Burway Lane (14/04215/OUT). It’s not in SAMDev, it’s on green fields and blocks key views of the castle. I’ve asked for the plans to be considered by the South Planning Committee.

burway_lane_locationThe proposed site

This development will fill in part of the gap on the south side of the lane between the last house, Haybridge and Burway Farm (the applicant). No plans and elevations of the houses have been submitted with the outline application. The agent for the applicant, Les Stephan Planning, says:

Although in outline this proposal will be designed to reflect the eclectic mix of detached housing development set along Burway Lane and will be to a standard which reflects the tradition of the nearby Ludlow Conservation Area. The development will be formed so as to address the public highway frontage in a traditional form with aspects of a more contemporary design at the rear facing south so as to introduce glazing to achieve passive heating gains.

I am concerned about loss of green fields, blocking of a key view of the town and castle and extra traffic on Burway Lane. These are some of the reasons I am asking for the application to be called in the South Planning Committee.

This development is also not included in the SAMDev planning document recently submitted to the government for examination. The agent for the applicant says that the because “SAMDev is subject to examination and therefore Change little weight can be afforded to the document at this stage.” He also claims that Shropshire Council does not have a five year land supply. The council recently announced it has a 5.47 year supply of housing land, but the agent says:

“In our view the actual numbers amount to substantially less than a 4 year supply if the numbers are calculated properly… The purported housing numbers are heavily reliant on Windfall sites. More than 50% in the south of the County, (1082 out of a requirement of 2082 in the remaining Plan period). Whilst it is legitimate to include Windfall sites in potential 5 year housing supply numbers (NPPF Para 48) the extent of the allowance for windfall development is unlikely to be achieved based on housing delivery in the first part of the Plan Period.”

That’s a technical argument and it is important that Shropshire Council responds to it. It’s another reason why I want this development to be decided by the South Planning Committee. It is vital we know whether SAMDev and our five year land supply gives us any protection against speculative development. It is also important to note that SAMDev will be examined by the planning inspectorate in mid-November, so we may be in a position to give it more weight by the time this application is decided.

The agent says this location is “highly sustainable.” The SAMDev sustainability assessment disagreed:

“Overall, it scores poorly in terms of sustainability.”

As a minor development, this planning application should be decided within eight weeks, but it likely to take longer as Shropshire has one of the worst planning performances in the country. Those who wish to support  or object to this scheme have until 28 October to comment, though it is normal practice to accept comments up until shortly before a decision is made (14/04215/OUT).

SAMDev: Site Assessment Summary (LUD029)

This is what Shropshire Council said about this site in its submission to the planning inspectorate ahead of the examination of the SAMDev local plan.

This site comprises agricultural land that lies on the north west of Ludlow town centre with views south to the Castle and St Lawrence’s Church. Stage 2a scores the site positively in terms of proximity to bus stops, low landscape sensitivity and for being in Flood Zone 1. It scored negatively regarding proximity to primary schools, all typologies of open space, due to it being within the buffer of a designated site and the conservation area, and for containing higher quality agricultural land.

Overall, it scores poorly in terms of sustainability.

There are particular concerns regarding access to the site with improvements to a private lane required to enable satisfactory access. The assessment also highlights the potential for protected species on site as there are known records of Great Crested Newts populations within 100m of the site. The site is not considered to be a realistic site in the SAMDev and would lie outside the development boundary so is not considered to be a potential windfall site.

My objection: November 2014

Objection to development on land off Burway Lane: 14/04215/OUT

From Andy Boddington, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow North.

I object to this proposal.

Highways. At the point of writing, there is no comment from SC Highways. But it is clear that the road and bridleway are too narrow to accommodate turning of vehicles making deliveries, or for that matter emergency vehicles. There are, in my view, clear highways grounds for refusing this application. There is a strong level of objection from neighbours, who understand the difficulties of access to this site.

CS Objective 12. This site is inaccessible other than along a bridleway that carries no vehicle rights. Even if access along this bridleway could be secured, the track is too narrow to accommodate vehicles alongside horses and pedestrians. Damage to access along the right of way conflicts with Core Strategy Objective 12: “Improve the quantity, quality and accessibility of… rights of way…” The comments of SC Rights of Way make clear the legal difficulties with access over a bridleway, but they are wrong that this is currently the route of the Shropshire Way. However, it is a popular walking route to and from Bromfield and its food centre, and I regularly meet local and tourist walkers on this bridleway.

CS16 commits Shropshire Council promoting tourism through: “Promoting and preserving the distinctive historic, heritage brand and values of Shrewsbury, the Market Towns and rural areas.” This development will damage a unique and stunning view of Ludlow Castle, St Laurence’s church and the historic town. It is one of three viewpoints that make walkers stop in admiration on first encounter with Ludlow (the others being: the approach to the castle along the current route of the Shropshire Way from Priors Halton to Ludlow; and the view from the Whitcliffe).

SAMDev S10/6. “All development should have regard to the setting of the historic core of the town recognising the importance of Ludlow Castle as an historic asset of national and international significance.” This development does not have regard to the setting of the historic core of Ludlow.

English Heritage has decided not to comment – it is not supporting or objecting to the development. Its lack of comment cannot be taken into account.

NPPF132 & Listed Buildings Act. NPPF32 says: “The more important the asset, the greater the weight should be. Significance can be harmed or lost through alteration or destruction of the heritage asset or development within its setting.” The harm caused by this development to the setting of Grade I listed assets Ludlow Castle and St Laurence’s Church is less than substantial. Referring to the desirability of preserving the setting of the setting of a historic monument under Section 66(1) of the Listed Buildings Act, the Barnwell Manor appeal court decision said:

“It does not follow that if the harm to such heritage assets is found to be less than substantial, the balancing exercise [in planning decisions] should ignore the overarching statutory duty imposed by section 66(1)… Parliament’s intention in enacting section 66(1) was that decision-makers should give “considerable importance and weight” to the desirability of preserving the setting of listed buildings when carrying out the balancing exercise.”

Although there is already development along Burway Lane, this specific site blocks a significant view of the heritage assets of Ludlow. It is difficult for an observer to understand the historical geography of Ludlow without viewing it from one or more of the three viewpoints referred to under CS6 above. Removing this viewpoint will erode the setting and understanding of the unique heritage assets of Ludlow. The development will create a sense of urbanisation that is not in keeping with the Grade I historic assets which were intended to dominate the surrounding countryside to emphasise the military and political might of the castle and the religious significance of the church. Section 72(1) applies a similar consideration to conservation areas. This site is adjacent to the Ludlow Conservation Area and provides exceptional views of the conservation area. The impact of this development on the unique Grade I and other heritage assets of Ludlow, and to the conservation area, weigh against approving this scheme given that they must have “considerable importance and weight.”

CS6 commits Shropshire Council to: “Ensuring that all development… Protects, restores, conserves and enhances the natural, built and historic environment and is appropriate in scale, density, pattern and design taking into account the local context and character, and those features which contribute to local character.” This development does not enhance, restore or conserve, but detracts from the natural, built and historic environment. CS17 reiterates this policy.

Affordable housing (CS1). The site will provide one affordable house. There is already planning permission for one affordable house, as an exception site, adjacent to Haybridge, partly adjacent, partly overlapping this site (12/04869/FUL). The planning permission has not been granted because the applicant has not agreed the legal details.

NPPF14. The NPPF says that development should be plan-led. It also says that if the local plan is out-of-date, the presumption in favour of sustainable development applies. The local plan is emerging rather than out-of-date. Under prematurity rules (NPPF216), SAMDev has limited weight – but it still has a degree of weight. The site is not included in SAMDev. This is an additional factor in rejecting this scheme.

NPPF47. Shropshire Council has announced that it has a five year land supply. This is challenged by the developer, and that is a matter for the current examination in public. But the five year land supply nevertheless has limited weight and contributes to the balance of arguments in favour of rejecting this scheme.

NPPF7 says that there are three dimensions to sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. These are not met by this development:

Economic sustainability. This site will make only a transitory economic contribution during the construction phase. This must be balanced against the limited, but permanent and cumulative, impact on tourism that will be made by this insensitive development which will block views of the castle.

Social sustainability. The site will provide one affordable dwelling, no more than the current planning permission in principle for this site. There are no other social benefits.

Environmental sustainability. The NPPF states that development should contribute to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment. This site damages the historic setting of Ludlow.

The site is therefore not sustainable under NPPF7, and the presumption in favour of sustainable development does not apply.

Conclusion

This scheme should be rejected as the adverse impacts listed above significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of supplying four market homes.

I repeat my previous comments that, if planning officers are inclined to support this proposal, it should be called in for consideration by the South Planning Committee.