Developments at the top of the Linney are in the shadow of Ludlow Castle, St Lawrence’s church and the town walls. This historic context means that any application, no matter how small, needs great scrutiny. The planning application to build a garage for Drawbridge House has come under scrutiny from national heritage watchdog, Historic England. It has objected to the planning application saying does not conform to national planning rules and legislation.
This application for the double garage is modest (17/06155/FUL). But it is the context that is important. This stretch of the Linney which goes from the bend at the top of the hill towards Linney Park has an unhappy planning history. Drawbridge House itself only went through the planning system after several attempts. Even then many people, including myself and Historic England, were unhappy with infill development at this sensitive historic location.
Drawbridge House itself was built on the swimming pool for Castle Meadow. The swimming pool was given planning permission by South Shropshire District Council in 2004. Only the roof was above ground. In 2012, the owner applied for permission to erect the house that was to become Drawbridge House. This was refused by Shropshire Council. Another application was made and that was also refused. The application was taken to appeal but it was withdrawn before a decision was made by the Planning Inspectorate.
Yet another application, reduced in scale, was submitted at the beginning of 2013 (13/00704/FUL). This was approved at the beginning of 2014. This time Historic England did not object but warned:
We remain very concerned, however, that cumulative development in the area of the Linney would be damaging to the setting of heritage assets including St Laurence’s church, the town walls, castle and conservation area. We note that land immediately to the west of the application site is green field, closer to the Castle, and further away from existing modern structures. English Heritage would be very likely to object to development within that area.
An application to build a house that was partly underground west of Drawbridge House was submitted in February 2018. That was thrown out by local planners on several grounds including Historic England’s objection:
The development proposal does not conserve heritage assets in a manner appropriate to their significance and as this is a core planning principle of the National Planning Policy Framework the proposal does not constitute sustainable development.
The developer appealed but the appeal was dismissed by a planning inspector. The inspector was particularly concerned about the detrimental impact of development would have on the setting of the castle, St Laurence’s church and the Ludlow conservation area. She was also worried that the development would damage the character of top of the Linney: “The construction of a new dwelling would alter the character of the area by extending development into what at present appears as a natural, undeveloped part of the hillside.”
This is why Historic England is so concerned about the proposed garage. In a letter objecting to the plans on heritage grounds it says:
Development has a greater potential impact upon the castle on the walls the further to the west along Linney that it is. This proposal is within an area that we have previously stated should be kept free of development because of the impact upon the historic environment.
I am also concerned that this garage will create a precedent for development on the site much as the swimming pool did for Drawbridge House. This area should be kept free of development to maintain the setting of the castle, town walls and church and to preserve uncluttered views from the west and north.