On 21 March, parish, town and unitary councillors meet to discuss the Place Plan for the Ludlow area. It is dry stuff but Shropshire Council leader Peter Nutting made it clear at the last council meeting that money will be pumped into Shrewsbury and Oswestry but the only way that towns like Ludlow will get money is through the Place Plan. This money will mostly, come from developers or grant funding. Shropshire Council is not proposing to chip in a penny.
This is one of the worst prepared documents I have seen in and around public service over decades. It has been written in Shirehall with no knowledge of local geography or needs.
Buried in the document is a proposal to relocate all health services in Ludlow to one site. That may not be a bad idea but it needs discussion beyond committee rooms. That’s why I am publishing the draft Place Plan today. We need a public consultation on these proposals, including the proposal for Ludlow to fork out cash to upgrade a sewerage works in Oswestry.
There will be no consultation with the public on our Place Plan. I thought I would ask for your views before the meeting. The draft Place Plan for Ludlow is here. We need a public view on this plan which will help shape the future of the Ludlow area for a generation. The Place Plan is dry stuff but does it have the right priorities?
I don’t understand why upgrading Mile Oak Wastewater Treatment Works is a priority in the Ludlow Place Plan. Or why a footbridge over the A49 from Rocks Green to Henley Road is no more than a footnote and marked as down to Highways England to deliver. Or why refurbishment of the decrepit park and ride site at the Eco Park is limited to just a toilet.
Place Plans are Shropshire Council’s way of prioritising future infrastructure requirements. I am not sure who has been involved in developing this draft plan. I have only just seen it. Consultation with parish and town council members will take place in a private meeting in two weeks’ time. I’d like to ask you opinion on what the priorities should be so that I can make an effective contribution at that meeting.
One proposal is to create a Ludlow Health Facility by co-locating Ludlow Hospital, GPs, and other health services on one site to serve South Shropshire. That may well be a good move. After all, that was planned for the long-abandoned proposal for a hospital on the Eco Park. But we have heard nothing of these plans until this document was sent to councillors. Where will the site be? Ludlow Community Hospital? Or a revival of the Eco Park plan? There is no mention of this in Future Fit.
The identified priorities for Ludlow are:
- Water treatment capacity is potentially an issue, and further assessment and mitigation may be required to meet the needs of new development.
- Additional primary school place provision in the latter part of the plan period to address the demands of development (Ludlow)
- Affordable housing provision will continue to be an issue across the area.
- Local infrastructure priorities include provision and maintenance of facilities and equipment for sport, recreation and leisure.
- Ludlow is an important tourist destination and has achieved international renown as a centre for quality local food and drink and Michelin starred restaurants. Improvements to tourism infrastructure may bring additional benefits.
Ignoring the reference to Michelin starred restaurants, these are about right. But local health services have been omitted.
The Place Plan gives a list of specific priorities:
- Ludlow Wastewater Treatment Works upgrade.
- Sewerage network capacity.
- Upgrade Mile Oak Wastewater Treatment Works.
- Adoption programme for Ludlow Eco Park (Caynham) and Ludlow Business Park (Ludlow).
- Extension of service road to Rocks Green with potential for mixed use development (Ludlow / Rocks Green).
- Sheet Road employment site – infrastructure works, (Ludlow).
- Additional primary school place provision in the latter part of the plan period to address the demands of development (Ludlow).
Okay, the Eco Park is in Ludford as are Rocks Green and Sheet Road. Miles Oak is south of Oswestry and has earnt its fame as one of the county’s most difficult roundabouts. They clearly don’t do geography in Shirehall.
There are proposals to improve football, cricket and rugby facilities in Ludlow. No money is offered for those. Signs on Ludlow to Brimfield cycle path could be improved with developer funding.
There is no mention of the pressing need for a footbridge across the A49, priority for developer funding cited in the council’s local plan, SAMDev (page 157).
Toilets could be provided at Eco Park, again funded by developers. There is no mention of the need to resurface the car park or to damp down antisocial behaviour with barriers and CCTV. A bus service could link the park and ride to the rail station (just as the 722 currently does).
Shropshire Council wants to improve links between the Castle and local town centre businesses and improve wayfinding and interpretation, installation of historic finger posts, waymarkers, milestones, mileposts and street signs. The money might come from developers or a grant. I am not sure how milestones or mileposts will help or why links with town businesses and the Castle need improvement. After all, the only way to get the Castle is walking past local businesses.
We learn that repairs to the collapsed town wall behind St Laurence’s church might be paid for by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Not a penny from Shropshire Council.
Among the objectives for Ludlow are to “install local tourist attraction signage, use York paving for pavements, reinstatement of cobblestones, replace modern railings with more traditional design, condition survey of existing historic railings and program of repair where necessary, produce landscape strategy to identify opportunities for improvements to visual amenity through landscaping.” This will be paid for by the town council, developers or grants. Not a penny from Shropshire Council despite it owning the pavements and having long neglected the cobbles on Broad Street.
Grants or developer funding could be used for:
“Shuts and Passageways Improvement Program – survey all for current conditions, increase street cleaning program, re-lay / repair appropriate paving, repair/ redecorate walls and ceilings, introduce / repair / replace identification signs to both ends of shuts, install consistent lighting to increase use and public safety, open any boarded up shut shop fronts in the Shuts and re-occupy, series of interpretation boards / plaques (Ludlow).”
That doesn’t sound like Ludlow at all. It looks like a straight cut and paste from the Shrewsbury document. But then Shropshire Council thinks our local sewage works is in Oswestry.
We Lib Dems have long campaigned to get streetlights converted from sodium to low energy LED. Although they are owned by Shropshire Council, we are told that the funding for conversion to LED in our town must come from developers or Ludlow Town Council.
The Bread Walk will be extended to the Charlton Arms. Are they going to quarry away Whitcliffe? Six thousand pounds, not a penny from Shropshire Council, are needed to improve the footpath network in Ludlow. A cycle route could be created from Station Road to the Eco Park. That’s an excellent idea but the council warns “it would require a reduction in road widths to accommodate” the cycle lane.
The Place Plan gives details of other neighbourhood projects for improvement:
- Ashford Carbonell: recreation facilities, church fabric, street scene and trees, village hall.
- Burford: recreation, street scene.
- Bitterley: recreation, cycle path, drains, speeding traffic in Middleton.
- Caynham: Clee Hill Rugby Club, cycle and pedestrian network, crossing and highway improvements.
- Ludford: recreation and Whitcliffe Common. A footpath could be created between Rocks Green and the Eco Park.
- Richard’s Castle: Shropshire Way.