Representatives from Ludford town centre and Ludlow Town Council, along with Viv Parry and myself, met with Crest Nicholson on Monday to discuss temporary construction access to the Foldgate Lane development for a period of up to two months. There are three competing proposals. The developer favours access along and across Foldgate Lane. Ludford parish council wants access from the A49 through an underpass. Viv Parry and I have suggested moving the proposed T-Junction further south on the A49 to make it easier to build. Ours is a more complex proposal but it would be a more satisfactory long term solution. However, the developer does not wish to engage again with Highways England which has proved to be a difficult organisation to deal with. The Ludford proposal makes a lot of sense.
Crest Nicholson’s plan is to for construction traffic along Foldgate Lane from the mini-roundabout near the Co-op for a length of around 85 metres. Trucks would then turn into the north field and run along the inside of the hedge. They would cross Foldgate Lane just west of the bend and enter the south field. Marshalls will be on duty at this point. The works will last for six to eight weeks after which construction traffic will access the site from the A49 using a newly built T-Junction.
Crest Nicholson has gained planning permission for 137 homes, 25% affordable, off Foldgate Lane after a five year battle with residents, councils and planners. The developer is ready to go ahead with building the first phase of the housing. But one major hurdle must be crossed before housebuilding can commence. When planning permission was granted by a planning inspector in November 2016, the inspector insisted that no houses can be built until a T-Junction is constructed to allow access from the A49 (Condition 9 of 14/04608/OUT).
All parties agree that it is not practical to build this T-Junction from the A49. The road is around six metres higher than the site at this point. More than 100 trees must also be cleared and that is better done from the site not the A49. That is why Viv Parry and I suggested a different location for the T-Junction where the difference in levels is just one metre. But Crest Nicholson is ruling this out, not least because it would require negotiations with Highways England to be reopened. Negotiations with the national highways company have been to date rather tortuous and I have sympathy with the developer’s position, even if I think it better that Crest Nicholson should bite the bullet and change the access point altogether.
Crest Nicholson is proposing that for the first two months, perhaps less, construction traffic will access from Foldgate Lane. Trucks will travel along the lane from the mini-roundabout for around 85 metres. It will then turn into the north field. Marshalls will usher the vehicles across the next stretch of Foldgate Lane into the south field. We will find out more details of the likely volumes of construction traffic when Crest Nicholson applies to vary Condition 9 of the planning permission. That will allow an opportunity for comment from the public, along with Ludford and Ludlow councils.
Ludford Parish Council have come up with another proposal. They want construction traffic to approach from Sheet Farm on the other side of the A49. Vehicles would then use the agricultural underpass to get access to the area where the trees will be felled and the T-Junction constructed.
The Ludford proposal has a lot of merit. I hope that Crest Nicholson and council planners will consider it seriously because Foldgate Lane is not suited to construction traffic.
We also discussed keeping the underpass in use once the housing is built. The rationale for this is that it could provide a cycle and pedestrian route to the proposed employment area east of the A49. However, Highways England is insisting that the underpass is blocked up. I think this is unnecessary. It does nothing to promote sustainable transport and the essential shift from motorised transport to active travel by cycling and walking in an era of climate emergency.