Planning appeals launched for Ludlow solar farm and out of town housing

Two new planning appeals are underway. Alexander Arcache of Kronos has appealed to the planning inspectorate against the refusal of a solar farm at Henley Hall on the outskirts of town (15/02332/REF). Richborough Estates have appealed against the refusal of plans for 137 homes off Foldgate Lane (15/02340/REF).

Henley Hall solar farm

The solar farm appeal is set to be examined at a hearing at the Gateway, Shrewsbury, from 10am on 5 April 2016. A hearing is a roundtable session, with each side presenting their case and the discussion steered by the planning inspector. Usually hearings are relatively relaxed.

The decision of the South Planning Committee to reject this development will be defended by committee members, not by officers, because the committee threw out the plans against officers’ advice. I proposed that the committee reject the scheme and I have already offered my time to help defend the decision at the inquiry.

The planning committee gave the following reasons for turning down the solar farm:

The proposal constitutes large scale industrial development and is inappropriate in terms of location, fails to protect and enhance the natural and historic environment and the character and high quality of the local countryside and setting of Ludlow, and would have an adverse impact on leisure and tourism. The renewable energy benefits of the proposal are significantly and demonstrably outweighed by the adverse impacts and as such would be contrary to Core Strategy Policies CS5, CS6, CS13, CS16 and CS17 and paragraphs 14, 17, 28 and 109, of the National Planning Policy Framework.

People who have already submitted objections or expressions of support for the scheme do not need to resubmit comments. Previous comments have been forwarded to the planning inspectorate. The planning inspector will ask if anyone wants to make additional written comments.

If you wish to speak at the hearing, you can just turn up on the day and inform the inspector at the beginning of the hearing. However, I think it is always helpful to advise the case officer of your intentions beforehand: stephen.bartle@pins.gsi.gov.uk

Foldgate Lane housing

At the beginning of August, planning officers rejected plans for 137 homes off the A49 and Foldgate Lane. The planners gave the following reason for refusal:

The proposed site lies in open countryside outside the development boundary for Ludlow as defined on the Policies Map of the emerging Sites Assessment and Management of Development (SAMDev) Plan and its predecessor, the South Shropshire Local Plan, which will shortly be replaced by the SAMDev Plan. As a result the proposal would be contrary to the development plan for the area. The development would have an adverse impact on the visual amenity of open countryside on the edge of the town and the need for housing land in Ludlow will be met elsewhere on sites allocated for residential development in SAMDev. There are no material considerations that weigh in favour of granting permission for the proposal contrary to the development plan. The proposal fails to accord with Policies CS1, CS3, CS5 and CS17 of the Shropshire Local Development Framework Adopted Core Strategy, Policy S10 of the emerging SAMDev Plan and ‘saved’ policy SDS 3 of the South Shropshire Local Plan.

The housing appeal will be examined at a three-day public inquiry. This is an altogether more formal process than a hearing. A date has yet to be set but the inquiry is likely to take place in late April or early May 2016.

The appellant, Richborough Estates, asked the planning inspectorate for an inquiry rather than a hearing. The inspectorate agreed:

We have decided that the appeal is suitable for an inquiry. This is because the matter of housing land supply is likely to be an issue at the inquiry. It is our experience that issues relating to housing land supply are more likely to be suitable to be dealt with at an inquiry as they generally warrant cross examination and, where appropriate, legal submissions. Also we consider the level of local interest (100 letters of objection) is best accommodated at an inquiry.

It is not surprising that Richborough have chosen an appeal over a hearing or written representations. John Acre from Turley Associates and Michael Jones from Richborough Estates spent two days at the recent Bromfield Meadows inquiry, no doubt to gather intelligence on how the council performs at inquiries.

Again, people who have already submitted objections or expressions of support for the scheme do not need to resubmit comments. Previous comments have been forwarded to the planning inspectorate. The planning inspector will ask if anyone wants to make additional written comments. See my guide to taking part in a public inquiry.

If you wish to speak at the inquiry, it is helpful to advise the case officer of your intentions beforehand: melanie.dunn@pins.gsi.gov.uk.