2020 – The year government took planning away from the people

2020 will be remembered for many things. The pandemic and flooding among them. It will also be remembered as the year they took planning away from the people. The government’s proposals in the white paper Planning for the Future and associated documents are bold. They will transfer many local planning powers from councils and communities to Whitehall and the planning inspectorate in Bristol. Ministers want planning by checklist instead of considered, albeit sometimes difficult, planning deliberations that lead to quality developments. There are sensible ideas in the government’s proposals but they are countered by its determination to take democracy and localism out of planning.

No date yet for Buttercross repairs – King Street to remain closed for a few weeks at least

Ludlow Town Council briefly discussed repairs to the Buttercross on Monday night. Councillors were told that stonemasons had been appointed and work had started on stone in hand. More stone has been ordered from Grinshill Quarry but there was as yet no date on delivery. There was no debate, though Councillor Viv Parry said market traders were giving false information about the closure and asked for someone to tell them to shut up. King Street cannot reopen until the Buttercross is repaired and that looks to be a few weeks away. At least the weather is warm. Lime mortar will not set below 5C and that is another reason for getting this work completed as soon as possible.

Ludlow Town Council again refuses to increase the number of stalls on Ludlow Market

“I personally think that’s a great disappointment councillors. I think we’ve missed an opportunity. Never mind. That is democracy.” Those were the words of Ludlow’s mayor Tim Gill at the end of a short debate on Monday night on increasing the number of market stalls from 30 to 35. The market manager had made a clear case for five extra stalls to bring new traders in, to increase the variety of traders and provide flexibility in allocating stalls. Mayor Gill spoke in favour but was countered by the hawkish Glen Ginger who proposed no change. The debate was short. There were only nine councillors present and only councillors Gill, Ginger, Parry and Sheward spoke. Councillor Ginger’s motion was passed after some confusion by five votes to four.

The curious case of the plans for Linney House (which are now at appeal)

Three homes approved. Four homes expected to be approved. But the developer of the Linney House site is determined to press ahead with his appeal against Shropshire Council’s lack of a decision on his scheme for eight homes. His appeal launched in June is proving to be as complex as the planning history of this site. The developer doesn’t pull any punches during the appeal. He attacks the council for not determining the application and lambasts the council’s tree officer. The council quite rightly refutes these arguments. It bases its case for rejection of the scheme on the impact on ecology, wildlife corridors and trees. However, its case is weakened by an extant planning permission for three perfectly awful homes. A final decision by the planning inspector is expected in the next few weeks.

Lamppost saves Ludlow tree from felling for CCTV camera

Update: Ludlow Town Council has agreed to move the camera to the adjacent lamppost. A couple of weeks ago, Ludlow Town Council proposed removing a good looking and healthy Whitebeam from Station Drive, just opposite the GP surgery. The reason was that it grown into a semi-mature tree and was obscuring the vision of a CCTV camera. After some confusion, and objections from town councillors, myself and Tracey Huffer, the county arboriculturalist said he was minded to issue a tree preservation order to protect “a well-established, early mature tree growing in an appropriate space (biologically speaking) in an urban environment.” In the end the solution was simple. Put the CCTV camera on Station Drive on the adjacent lamppost. A final decision will be made by the town council on Monday 7 September. Councillors should also call for a comprehensive planting plan for the narrow strip of land between Station Drive and the Galdeford car park.

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