Stone House retirement complex approved by the South Planning Committee

The South Planning Committee approved the demolition of the former council offices on Corve Street on 13 September after a detailed debate. The offices will be replaced by 44 apartments to be built and operated by Churchill Retirement Living. Four affordable units will be provided by converting the former stable block.

Much of the committee discussion was centred around car parking, including for carers. Churchill told us that the ratio of one space for every two properties was sufficient. They usually one provide one space for every three apartments. The properties will be sold to the “active elderly” and there will not be a need for parking for carers. Under pressure to clarify what happens when people get older and in need of care, Churchill said the carers could park nearby. I didn’t agree with this as we already have a problem with carer parking in this area of the town, with carers having to park some distance away. That means that appointment lengths are reduced. Members of the committee argued that in a rural area, people would be more in need of cars. Overall though, I don’t think the car parking is too low for a retirement settlement in this location. Already, 25.1% of households in Ludlow don’t have a car or van, well above the Shropshire average of 15.8%.[1]

I didn’t have a vote on this scheme because it is in my electoral division. I told the committee that the site was one of the most sustainable in Ludlow for a retirement settlement. It has retail areas nearby and medical services are a short bus ride away. But I believed the development was too large for the site. A reduction in the number of apartments would ease concerns about car parking and the lower the impact of the scheme on the conservation area and nearby listed buildings.

I was concerned that a very large number of the details of this scheme are subject to conditions. That means they haven’t been agreed between officers and the developers. I think that if a development in a conservation area goes to committee, we should know all the details.

There had been a suggestion that the dormer windows on the stable block could be moved to face southwards. Although this would reduce the overlooking of the historic Stone House, south facing windows would look straight into the properties on Station Drive and could not be allowed.

I concluded the scheme was marginal in planning terms. I decided not to give the committee a recommendation on how to vote.

Councillor Mark Clarke spoke against the scheme on behalf of Ludlow Town Council. He said the site was overdevelopment and had inadequate parking. He also expressed concern about access for emergency services.

The committee voted unanimously to approve the scheme.

Notes

[1]. Source: 2011 Census.