Building work starts on Linney House but only for foundations of a garage

The world of planning is often bizarre. That’s the case with Linney House where a series of applications for houses in the grounds have met objections from residents and planners. But the developer, Linney House Developments, did gain planning permission in 2014 and 2017. Planning law says that developers must start work within three years on planning permission being granted. The current planning application for eight homes on the site has run into trouble with strong objections from Shropshire Council’s planning team.

Yesterday, contractors moved onto the site to begin work. Alerted by concerned residents, I went to the site to check up on what was happening. Heras fencing is being erected, undergrowth cleared and foundations dug for a garage. That’s enough to stop the 2017 permission for three large houses expiring. Although work has started, there is no current intention of building this scheme. As I said, the world of planning is often bizarre.

I asked if the site could be sold and turned into a nature reserve. Answer, no.

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Planners say plans for eight homes at Linney House are likely to be thrown out because of damage to the natural and historic environment

In March, a new proposal was submitted to build eight homes of modern design in the grounds of Linney House. Now Shropshire Council’s planning officers have said the plans contravene planning policy and are likely to be refused. A letter sent to the site developer eight days ago is a lengthy 14 pages. But the message it conveys is clear. The environmental damage and harm to the Ludlow Conservation Area from the proposed scheme would be unacceptable. At most, three houses can be accommodated on the site and there is already permission for this. Shropshire Council is likely to reject the current application to increase the number of houses to eight.

The planners’ letter does not mark the end of this seven-year attempt to build in woodland in the garden of the Grade II listed Linney House. The developer must decide whether to withdraw the current application or press ahead regardless. If the plans are turned down, he might appeal to the planning inspectorate. He would also be within his rights to go to planning inspectorate for a decision without waiting for a formal decision from the council. Or he might opt to build the scheme for three large houses approved in 2014 and 2017.

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Linney House development runs into trouble from heritage, highways, ecology, and a potential threat to otters

It is rare that an application for permission to build houses is straightforward. In Ludlow, it seems that is almost never the case. The application to build eight homes in a modern style in the grounds of Linney House is a case in point. This has been a much abused site over the years with permissions given that would not get through the tougher planning system in place today. Trees on the property have been felled without consent. This application, submitted to Shropshire Council last February, has now hit new stumbling blocks (19/00826/FUL). The scheme was already subject to an energetic complaint from the council’s tree officer. Highways officers said several matters must be resolved before planning permission is granted. Shropshire Council’s ecologists now say they are not happy with the plans. They are demanding more information to be assured that protected species are not damaged. They are concerned about disturbance to otters. The council’s heritage team want the scheme thrown out unless significant improvements are made, including a reduction in the number of houses.

This is tough talk from officers and I am not expecting approval of this scheme anytime soon.

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Shropshire Council says that a development of just eight homes on the Linney will lead to a loss of more than 600 trees – it is likely to be fewer

The numbers are shocking and I am sure they will be challenged by the developer. A calculation by Shropshire Council’s tree team suggests that around 644 trees will have been lost during the lengthy seven year saga to develop the site at the rear of Linney House on the banks of the Corve, if the current development of eight homes is given the green light to go ahead. This is a high end estimate. It more likely that only a third of that number will be lost without replanting.

The council’s tree team notes that only an indicative landscape plan for planting replacement trees has been submitted with the latest application. It now up to the developer to flesh out the details of compensatory planting. Even then, I doubt that the full number of trees can be replaced. Not for the first time recently, this raises the question about how developers can be obliged to compensate for loss of biodiversity.

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The new plans for eight homes in the grounds of Linney House are modern, green and so much better

A planning application has been submitted for eight homes in the grounds of Linney House. The scheme is modern in design. That is a radical departure from the previously approved schemes which were uninteresting suburban designs. The scheme also tackles the issue of flooding. Part of the site lies in Flood Zone 2 and the previous application strayed into this. The current applicant plans to reprofile the site to restore the ground to the levels it had prior to the site being quarried lifting all the homes out of the floodplain. A wildlife corridor will be created along the Corve.

This proposal will need to be scrutinised in detail. My provisional view is that this is a far more attractive and feasible scheme than the previous proposals. It is well designed and landscaped. It will add to the character of the area. But it will generate extra traffic. The Linney should be brought into the town centre 20mph zone if this scheme is to proceed.

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