We should merge Ludford & Ludlow councils if plans for housing south of Rocks Green are to succeed

Next Wednesday, Claremont Planning Consultancy is to present their outline plans for 200 homes south of Rocks Green to Ludlow Town Council. The development is in Ludford parish. The town council has little to no influence over the development. Most future development is expected to be in Ludford, not Ludlow. We need to merge Ludford and Ludlow councils to ensure that the future of our town is planned coherently.

Here is what we know so far on the application, followed by my comments of getting planning better organised for Ludlow.

This housing application has been a long time in the coming. During the negotiations for SAMDev, our local plan for where housing will be built, it was agreed that around 200 homes could be built south of Rocks Green, behind the Nelson.

Claremont is aiming to put in an outline application for 200 homes on behalf of Pickstone Homes. At this stage, Claremont is only intending to submit detailed designs for the first sixty houses. The rest of the site is to be sketched out in a masterplan.

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Claremont have said they are keen to hear Ludlow Town Council’s feedback. I am sure that they would like to hear from residents also. (They will also speak to Ludford parish council but Ludford does not publish details of its meetings online.)

The town council meeting is at 7pm on Wednesday in the Guildhall. Members of the public can speak briefly at the start of the meeting.

This site is incredibly important for the future of Ludlow. It is the first part of new suburb that will stretch from Rocks Green to the Eco Park. My first thought on this masterplan is that is self-contained, not designed to be part of a larger development. I have said for many years that any development east of the bypass should be on garden village principles. That means weaving green space throughout the settlement. The masterplan we have seen doesn’t get anywhere near that ideal. It’s just a standard housing estate.

We have a geopolitical problem here. This development is in Ludford parish. Ludlow Town Council has nothing other than a backseat role in the planning system for this development. Ludford will make its comments but it does not have the same agenda as Ludlow.

Everyone in Ludford uses Ludlow services but Ludford residents pay just £16 a year in parish precept (council tax Band D). Ludlow residents pay £133. The new estate will pay the same low Ludford council tax but draw on central Ludlow services. That cannot be right. If you live in the Ludlow area, you must pay for services. Otherwise, we will lose them. And why shoud residents in Greenacres and Foldgate view, whose tranquil setting is about to be ruined by the Foldgate Lane housing development, have to fork out eight times as much in parish precept as the people who will occupy the new houses?

This development has to be the trigger for reorganisation of the parishes around Ludlow. Ludford is the parish where all the major development is expected to occur. It should merge with Ludlow Town Council as soon as is practical. That will inevitably be painful. Some people in Ludford will hate it. But it will be the best thing for the future of our town and the villages around it.

Now is the time to tackle this issue. If we do not, the next 30 years of housing development in Ludlow and its adjacent parishes is likely to end up a real mess.

I welcome these houses. We should plan for more, especially homes that younger people can afford. But I don’t think we are anywhere achieving that at the moment.

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