Month: March 2016

I am disappointed and rather angry that a planning inspector has allowed a solar farm to go ahead above Neen Sollars, near Cleobury Mortimer. I don’t think that this appeal needed to have been lost. The Neen Sollars decision follows the approval by another planning inspector of a solar farm at Acton Scott. A decision on an application for a solar farm at Whitton is due any day. I fear for the result. All three solar farm applications were turned down by the South Planning Committee against the advice of officers. In all three cases, councillors have subsequently been excluded from the appeal process. The council’s case was submitted after the planning inspectorate deadline for two of the three appeals. To me this suggests that the technical documentation was prepared under hurried pressure. And for all three applications, the appeal case has been written by the same planning team that enthusiastically supported the planning application at the South Planning Committee.

Shropshire Housing Group has applied for planning permission to extend Ludlow’s Foyer (16/00761/FUL). The plans involve demolishing Harvest House and building a new wing to the existing Marston’s Mill building. The extension will be clad in weathered copper shingles. A new reception area will be built on the railway side between the two wings. Marston’s Mill is home to Ludlow Foyer, a housing project that provides accommodation for up to 15 young people young people aged 16-25. To reside in the Foyer, young people need to commit to training, education and employment. The new building will provide 11 additional residential units.

On Friday, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport gave scheduled monument consent to repairs to Ludford Bridge, which was hit by a reversing tarmac truck on 21 February. This is an important step forward as it clears the way for repairs to begin. Historic England has waived the usual four week notice that is required before work on the bridge can commence.[1] This is of course good news. But I am still disappointed that it has taken a month to get this far. Shortly after the bridge was damaged, Shropshire Council was talking of repairs taking a few weeks. Now it is clear that this main route into Ludlow will be shut for months. That’s not good for a market town that relies on tourism and local trade.

I see in the Ludlow Advertiser Philip Dunne is welcoming the increase in young people applying to go university. He fails to mention that his own constituency is performing worse than much of England. Ludlow used to be ahead of the game but is now trailing behind. The data released by UCAS earlier this month are really quite shocking. All of Shropshire is falling behind the rest of England in university admissions. We would have more than 200 extra students applying to go to university every year if we achieved the national average. Ludlow slides down higher education league tables When Philip Dunne was elected as our MP ten years ago, just 181 of the 533 constituencies in England had a higher rate of university applications than Ludlow. In 2016, 301 constituencies do better than Ludlow. That’s not a good track record.

It looks like Ludford Bridge, the main route into Ludlow from the south, will be closed until the end of April. Tonight’s update is based on information provided this afternoon by Shropshire Council’s consulting engineers, Mouchel. Bill Klemperer, principal inspector of ancient monuments at Historic England, has validated the application for scheduled ancient monument consent for the repairs. The application is now awaiting approval by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The culture department is expected to rubber stamp the application. Work on the bridge cannot start before consent is granted, as that would be a criminal offence. With the help of Shropshire Council’s heritage team and local mason Paul Arrowsmith, three local stone suppliers have been identified and approved by Bill Klemperer. This gives us a choice of suppliers from within Shropshire.

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