Yesterday, Shropshire Council planners approved the details of plans for 137 houses at Foldgate Lane after nearly five years of discussions (18/02413/REM). But the development cannot go ahead without yet another application to allow construction traffic to access. The housing is due to be accessed from a T-Junction on the A49. But due to the gradients on the site, this access cannot be built other than by construction traffic thundering along Foldgate Lane. Viv Parry, the Shropshire Councillor for the area, has said this is unacceptable. I agree. The lane is totally unsuited for construction traffic and we will oppose any application to allow this.
But we want to be constructive. By moving the T-Junction a short way south, the problem with gradients is resolved. Our scheme would also save much of the tree belt, where more than 100 trees are currently slated for felling. In our proposal, the T-Junction would be left turn only on leaving the site, reducing the risk of accidents on a high speed section of the A49.
The proposal for around 137 homes was initially submitted nearly five years ago in November 2014. In September 2015, council planning officers rejected the plans. But in November 2016, a planning inspector overturned the council’s refusal and gave the development the go ahead. Shropshire Council decided not to challenge this flawed decision in the high court. The planning inspector’s decision explicitly forbade construction traffic gaining access to the site along Foldgate Lane. That’s why there must be a new planning application from Crest Nicholson because it is impossible to build their proposed access from the A49.
Below is the submission from Viv Parry and myself explaining how the site can be accessed from the A49, safety can be improved and most of the trees saved.
Construction and resident access to the Foldgate Lane site – 16/03096/OUT, 18/02413/REM and 19/01190/FUL
Ludlow unitary councillors have been willing to help Crest Nicolson move this development forward. But we have baulked at suggestions that Foldgate Lane could be used for construction access. Along with the town council, we also believe the loss of trees along the A49 is unacceptable in a period when both Shropshire Council and Ludlow Town Council have declared a climate emergency.
We wish to be constructive. Many of the difficulties about access to the A49 derive from the high level of the proposed junction relative to the ground level for the housing.
This proposed access is through a dense semi mature tree belt. This is both a noise screen for the site and a biodiversity corridor.
Around 200 metres south of the currently proposed access, the tree belt ends. There the elevation of the A49 is much lower and very close to site level.
To the south of this point there are no significant trees for a distance 180 metres by which time the A49 is dropping into a cutting.
We are not highways engineers but believe this location be more suitable for the site access. No significant trees would be lost in creating a visibility splay to the south. The removal of trees to create a visibility splay to the north could be kept to a minimum by making exit from the development a left turn only. A turning restriction would add approximately one kilometre to the journey of vehicles leaving the development if they wanted to travel towards Hereford. That would be a modest inconvenience if it meant that the tree belt could be kept intact to shield residents from noise and pollution and the biodiversity corridor would be maintained. We also believe a left turn only restriction can be justified on road safety grounds alone due to the speed of traffic on the A49 at this point.
This newly proposed access would be easier to construct and opens the possibility for construction vehicles accessing the site from the A49 (see sketch map on the next page). Construction access via Foldgate Lane is unacceptable. It is an important route for pedestrians, cyclists and well as local drivers. It is part of the Shropshire Way. Routing construction traffic along even a short length of Foldgate Lane would pose a danger, including for pedestrians using the zebra crossing outside the Co-op. There is limited visibility of this crossing for vehicles approaching from the direction of the A49.
An alternative access through the underpass is unlikely to be suitable due to its restricted dimensions. Another potential route from the A49 via Ashford Carbonell involves a narrow bridge over the Teme and winding lanes towards Steventon farm. We should not route construction traffic onto narrow lanes unless absolutely essential.
The revised access we are proposing would require minor changes to the layout in areas A & B but there would be no reduction in the overall number of houses. Because vehicles will not need to drive up as steep a slope to access the A49, there will be reduced traffic noise for residents.
We appreciate that this proposal comes as Crest Nicholson is seeking to finalise planning consents to allow construction to commence. We feel the need to write at this point because We understand that Crest Nicholson proposes that initial construction traffic will be routed via the narrow Foldgate Lane. This is to be discussed by the town council on Wednesday 18 September.
We hope that Shropshire Council and Crest Nicholson will consider this proposal for alternative access. Foldgate Lane has every potential to become an exemplary development and we would all like to help ensure that.
Viv Parry and Andy Boddington
17 September 2019