The saga of the proposals for 137 homes on Foldgate Lane has been a long and difficult one. The final proposals have now been submitted. Overall, they look good. There some details to be resolved and some to challenge. These include access arrangements to Foldgate Lane and public transport.
Putting aside that this development being in the wrong place and the problems of access, this application for detailed planning permission has been well put together. The housing is at a low density and the layout is spacious and green. One quarter of the housing will be affordable.
Permission for this development cannot and will not be refused. Our task now is to improve its sustainability.
The application (18/02413/REM) was submitted at the end of May but for technical reasons it was not made publicly available until last Thursday. The consultation closes on 28 June.
There has been no change in the number of houses proposed – 137 in total. That’s good news. Thirty four of the houses will be affordable. That’s an impressive and welcome 25%. It’s well above the going rate around here. The development is will be low density, 26 dwellings a hectare. That’s another good move given how constrained vehicle access to this site is. More than a fifth of homes will have just one or two bedrooms. Again, that’s welcome because Ludlow needs smaller housing.
More than two thirds of this development will be public open space (just under 12 hectares). Another positive tick from me.
There will be a lot of trees planted, some are described and ‘ornamental’ and others ‘avenue’. It would be sensible to have a planning condition that insisted that all trees should be native species. That will help blend the development in with the locality. At the south end of the site, an orchard will be planted. Again, a good move.
The site will have six main areas of public open space:
Palmers Patch and Foldgate Green. Trees and hedgerows retained with new perimeter tree and hedgerow planting and wildflower seeding.
Newtown Community Green. Retained trees and new parkland planting. A play area (known as a Local Equipped Area for Play – LEAP).
Little Orchard View. Narrow area of open space reinstating a former linear field pattern.
Millfield Meadow. Wildflower meadow planting with opportunities for natural play and trim trail. Pockets of mixed native woodland separating the meadow from the railway line.
Community Orchard. Planted with apple, pear, plum and damson varieties.
There will be eight attenuation ponds to capture rainwater during storms prior to discharging into the drains (SuDS). They will be planted with wet and marginal grass mixes to promote biodiversity. One attenuation pond is just 30 metres away from the play area on Newtown Community Green. It would be worth reviewing the safety of this. The pond could benefit from a low hedge or other soft barrier as a disincentive to a child chasing a ball or running after a dog.
The house design is pretty standard. Crest Nicholson says it has selected house types that suit the site and has adjusted some architectural detailing and fenestration. In my view, they are just the same houses you can find anywhere in the country. But they not at all ugly. To the company’s credit, it will build four bungalows on the highest part of the site closest to the gardens of Greenacres.
One of the biggest issues with this site has been access.
The main road access will be a T-junction onto the A49. I have never been happy with that. Slow moving traffic leaving the estate to join the A49 on a misty morning is an accident waiting to happen. Some people who move into Foldgate Lane might feel nervous about leaving by the A49 access.
For that reason, and because drivers instinctively go for the shortest route, many will try to leave by the Foldgate Lane crossing between the north and south parts of the site. This crossing has been controversial from the outset. We have been assured throughout that vehicles will only be able to cross, not turn left or right onto Foldgate Lane.
The “swept path analysis” submitted with this planning application suggests that the proposed splitter islands will prevent private vehicles turning onto Foldgate Lane. We need someone with technical highways expertise to review this analysis. Could someone drive a mini from the spine road onto Foldgate Lane? Probably.
It is vital that we keep traffic away from Foldgate Lane. It is narrow and walkers must often squeeze into the hedgerow to let vehicles pass.
The plans include a pedestrian and cycle access onto Foldgate Lane to the east. It will join the narrow lane opposite Ludlow Nut Company. The access is also intended to provided access for emergency vehicles.
If this access was moved around 30 metres further north, it would be possible to create a pedestrian link across Foldgate Lane to join the retail estate between Pets at Home and the Nut Company. That would be a safer route than the proposed 100 metre walk up Foldgate Lane to the road link to the retail park. It could also provide access to bus services (see below).
This application is very thin on sustainable transport. It assumes that people will walk along the narrow lane to Sheet Road or get into their cars.
One possibility would be to divert the 722 park and ride service into the Foldgate Lane retail park. It could turn back at the spur road between Pets at Home and Ludlow Nut Company. If a footpath was created across Foldgate Lane as I propose above, that would mean that people could easily catch the bus into town for the market, shops and medical services. The 722 connects with the 701 service which serves the east side of town. It also connects with the railway station and out of town bus services.
Crest Nicholson could improve the sustainability of this scheme by working to ensure good bus connections.
This planning application will not be refused by Shropshire Council. There is no legal basis for rejecting it because it is consistent with the already approved outline planning consent.
But will it be built?
We have more than 640 homes in Ludlow with planning permission that have yet to be built. Some of those permissions have stalled, with no sign of being started, restarted or completed.
Will Crest Nicholson get on with building houses on this site? I suspect it will. The company has purchased this site after the tough planning battles have been fought. It has said it wants to construct the site in a single phase, not in bursts over several years. These are good portents for getting the site built out.
I would prefer Ludlow’s new housing to be built outside the bypass between the Eco Park and Rocks Green. I also think some aspects of this application need improvement. But putting these points aside, I regard this is a very good application. It will create a more pleasant living environment than the 200 homes proposed south of Rocks Green. It is better than many other sites that I have seen as a member of the South Planning Committee.
Although I think this site should not have been given planning permission, we now need to get on and make this housing development a valued extension to Ludlow.
. In Ludlow, Shropshire Council only demands 15% affordable housing on developments of over 10 homes. Of the 34 affordable homes on this site, 24 will be “affordable rental”. Ten will be affordable intermediate. This “caters for households which don’t qualify for social rent homes, but who nonetheless can’t afford to rent or buy a home in the open market. Typically, the rent level is set at 80% of the local market rent.”
. This total includes the Foldgate Lane development.