Shropshire Homes has applied to squeeze more homes onto the former quarry site on Fishmore Road. It currently has approval for 73 homes and the plans are to add an extra five. This will give this a brownfield site a density of 43 dwellings a hectare. The Foldgate Lane greenfield development is by contrast a mere seven dwellings a hectare. Fishmore Quarry will provide just 4.5 sqm of accessible open space for each household. Foldgate Lane will have 850 sqm of accessible open space per household.
It is a tale of two housing estates and a tale of our times. Urban brownfield developments are getting ever more crowded, often less attractive, while attractive spacious greenfield developments sprawl outwards across open countryside.
Shropshire Homes has permission to build 72 homes on the former quarry site. It is a derelict site much in need of redevelopment or being given over to an alternative use. This site has had outline planning permission for 94 homes since around 2006. Planning permission for 74 homes, again in outline, was granted in February 2019 (16/03096/OUT). In November 2019, full planning permission was granted for 71 homes (19/02060/REM).
An extra dwelling was added after a subsequent application was approved (19/05374/FUL).
In the latest application, Shropshire Homes wants to add an additional six homes to the scheme, taking the total to 78 (20/01326/FUL). An approved terrace of seven houses will be extended to eight. Five extra apartments will be squeezed into two approved apartment blocks.
This site gets more crowded and I remain concerned about the lack of accessible public open space. These proposals do not diminish the publicly accessible open space available but do increase the number of households that will have to share it. The only space planned for around 200 residents to stretch their legs measures half the size of a football pitch.
The contrast between this site and the Foldgate Lane housing development could not be greater.
Foldgate Lane is a greenfield site with considerable accessible open space, nearly 12 hectares. That is around 850 sqm for each of the 137 households. In contrast, most of the open space on the brownfield Fishmore quarry site is behind the houses on the quarry face. This will be fenced off for safety. The 78 households will have to share just one third of a hectare – around 4.5 sqm each – accessible open space.
Fishmore Quarry is not a deluxe development of executive homes. It is a mix of two and three bedroom terraced houses and flats. We need small housing units like this in Ludlow. But residents also need open space. That is a dilemma of our times. We need to build housing, especially small housing, but we also need to have high expectations for the public realm surrounding the houses. The quarry development has had little regard to the public domain. It should not become a model for future development.