Plans for up to 215 houses with road access from a new roundabout on the A49 were rejected by Shropshire Council’s South Planning Committee last July. They were rejected again today. Officers had recommended approval of the plans on both occasions.
This afternoon, I told the committee this was a difficult application that demonstrates how not to do planning. Public engagement on this scheme has been very poor. It is a less than perfect site to build houses on but that’s the case for nearly all the larger development sites in and around Ludlow. I said we sometimes we look at sites that make you wince a bit and this site certainly makes me wince a bit.
I think there are too many houses being proposed for this site.
The only road access is from the A49. Estates that look outwards towards bypasses tend to think outwards and people drive away rather than go into town.
What causes me most concern is the footbridge to Fishmore View. If we build a bridge to this quiet cul de sac it will become a car park for dog walkers. I am not against this scheme as a whole but I am resolutely against this footbridge.
The committee discussion after I left the room was lively and at times awkward.
The committee was divided.
Councillor Nigel Hartin proposed accepting the outline application without the Fishmore View footbridge. He said the problems with the current proposal can be resolved when the details of the development are finalised.
But other members would not agree. They said that the fundamental reasons for refusing the application remain the same as they were in July. One councillor said:
“I can’t think of a worse site to develop more than 200 houses. These are going to be family houses and the danger from the river is acute.”
The opponents said the site is not suitable for family housing. Perhaps it would be better used for executive homes or retirement bungalows? They thought we should not be building houses where we need to install insulation from noise and fumes. There was concern over access. How would the disabled get into town? How would primary age children get to school?
Councillors were worried about difficulties with process too. This is an outline application and most details can be changed when detailed planning permission is negotiated (so called reserved matters). But a councillor said: “If we approve it in outline, we will be lumbered with it.”
The developer had already appealed the previous refusal of this application. A public inquiry will be held later in the year. This has been seen as a threat – approve this scheme now or face the costs of appeal. But councillors said they are not frightened by appeals. One demanded: “Why don’t we stand up for ourselves occasionally?”
When the vote was taken, four members voted for the scheme and five against.
In my view, this is a badly prepared application that would have benefited from extensive consultation with the community. The developers and Shropshire Council have concentrated on trying to push the application through rather than make it better for Ludlow.
That’s not good planning and a town like Ludlow needs good planning.
The developers should now drop their appeal to the planning inspectorate and draw up a new scheme. I am sure that if the developers work closely with the local community and Ludlow Town Council, a sensible scheme could be drawn up.
If they are not prepared to do that, they should drop their plans altogether.
. Shropshire Councillors are not allowed to vote on planning applications in their own division.