This is no way to build – scary gabions above A49 need to go

Our concerns about the development off Cold Weston Drive, write Tracey Huffer and Andy Boddington, can be summed up in one photograph.

If we look a bit nervous in this photograph, we were nervous. It was pouring with rain and the steep slope plunges down to the A49 bypass. High above us are the gabions, stacked high to support the gardens of a housing development off Cold Weston Drive. These gabions are scary. Very scary.

We are not the only people worried. Shropshire Council planners and highways managers are also concerned.

The gabions support the gardens of seven houses being built on a plot behind Ludlow Junior School (15/00071/FUL).

Highways England considers the gabions could pose a potential danger to traffic on the bypass if they failed.

It is important to ensure these structures remain stable and safe for the lifetime of the development. That could be a century or more. Planning officers tell us:

“Negotiations are under way and the currently favoured approached involves removing the top line of baskets and netting the lower baskets and securing them with ‘soil nails’. The gardens will then be sloped down to the top line of baskets.”

Whatever changes are agreed, the gabions require planning permission.

Officers are also asking for more details about how noise will be reduced for the new residents (16/04410/DIS). Traffic was very noisy when we visited the site last week. The Environmental Noise Assessment for the development suggests that the back gardens will be subject to an average noise of 71 decibels for over 16 hours of the day (71dB LAeq). That’s about the level of vacuum cleaner noise. At night, the noise will fall to 63 decibels (63dB LAeq). That’s equivalent to a slightly loud conversation.

This places the site in Noise Exposure Category C, where planning permission should not normally be granted unless suitable noise mitigation measures can be agreed. In this case, a noise assessment survey was made a condition of granting planning permission.

The houses will be double glazed, reducing the sound in bedrooms and other areas to not much more than whisper, at most as loud as bird calls (30dB to 45dB). But these lower levels will only apply when windows are shut. Shropshire Council’s public protection team are asking for details of how the rooms in the houses will be ventilated.

Officers are also seeking further information on drainage from the site. They say that excess water cannot be discharged over adjacent land, including down the embankment.

This is a very cramped site that is proving complex to develop. The main priority must be to get an agreed solution for the gabions but we also need to sort out noise and drainage.

Our thanks to residents for their help in monitoring the situation on this site.

One thought on “This is no way to build – scary gabions above A49 need to go

  1. Were these gabions placed contrary to, or without, planning permission?
    Always thought such structures could be susceptible to vandalism, too.

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