I have had questions recently about how to speak at Shropshire Council planning committees and I thought I provide an update on how the system works. Objectors and supporters should understand that planning decisions are a formal process and committee must follow the rulebooks, or risk having their decision overturned at appeal or even in the high court. The dryness, even dullness of planning committee meetings is a testimony of their importance and the seriousness that councillors bring to their duties. Having sat on several committees in my five years plus as councillor, planning is certainly the most arduous duty outside full council. We might spend five minutes discussing one application or it make take an hour, on some occasions longer. Then we are immediately on to the next, usually without a break. But it is also rewarding for councillors on the committee. We spend a lot of time preparing for meetings and recognise that even small applications could have a major impact on people’s lives.
Shropshire Homes has submitted a new set of plans for 67 homes on the old Quarry site on Fishmore Road (19/02060/REM). The only significant change is that a block of apartments has been moved from Fishmore Road to the back of the site. They are swopped with two pairs of semi-detached houses. Three additional car parking spaces will be created, upping the total to 131. Of these, eighteen will have direct access onto Fishmore Road disrupting the current parking bay.
This site is heavily constrained by its topography above and below ground. This makes it more difficult than most to develop. But I don’t think the design is yet right. The direct access from car parking onto Fishmore Road undesirable on a busy road and will take out the spaces on the on street parking bay. There is little publicly accessible open space and no play area.
Shropshire Homes has submitted plans for 68 houses on the site east of the Eco Park. This site is allocated for housing and light industrial use. The site was given outline planning permission for an indicative total of 80 homes and light industrial use in September 2016. This is south of the site on which Western Power Distribution (WPD) wants to build a new depot.
This is an improvement to the outline proposals. The scheme sits well in the landscape and has a better use of green space. As always there are details to be resolved, such as whether the scheme will have a children’s play area and whether a power line will be moved.
This application has long been expected. Western Power Distribution (WPD) has operated from an unsuitable location in The Riddings, Sandpits for decades. Its 1960s depot is behind a new row of housing built on the site of the former tax office. WPD maintenance trucks must travel along St Margaret Road and Parys Road to leave the depot. Worse, they often travel past Ludlow Infants School when children are arriving or leaving.
Now the company is applying to move to a plot between the Eco Park park and ride and Western Power Distribution’s substation on Squirrel Lane. This is a good move. Vehicle access will be through the Eco Park spine road. That’s also a good move.
I was not expecting this. South Shropshire Housing Group and its successor Connexus had ruthlessly driven through the application for five bungalows on the much loved green at the bottom of Charlton Rise. The housing association had felled one tree, planned to fell another, and take up half the green with bungalows.
But Connexus has had a change in attitude. We heard this at Ludlow Town Council last night. Driving schemes through against the wishes of the community is no longer on the agenda of this housing association. The officers from the housing group said they needed to hear local views to make a reasonably informed decision about whether they should take this development forward or not.
That’s a change of tune and it’s very welcome. We are a long way from halting the unwanted development but just when we thought there was no hope at all of saving this community green space, we have renewed hope.