25 June 2014

I am sorry that members were unable to see this site properly this morning. If you had, you would have seen that it comprises a large flat plateau, ideal you might think for housing. You would have seen that it falls away steeply to the River Corve. You would have seen why we are so concerned about flooding. If we had visited Fishmore View, you would have seen why residents are objecting so strongly to the footbridge over the River Corve.

I feel rather sorry for the people who will live here.

Those living to the east will suffer noise blight and air pollution from the A49.

You saw a freight train pass this morning. They go past day and night.

Noise erodes health but it is not immediately dangerous. The River Corve is often dangerous. It frequently floods the green space that is proposed between the housing and the river.

The indicative plan shows the green space laid out like a suburban park. It has a look of safety about it. When the Corve floods, it is not safe. The Corve rises fast and flows fast. Even shallow waters are fast flowing and treacherous.

If this development goes ahead, this park should be rethought to prioritise resident safety.

There is no play area in this scheme. There should be.

The footbridge across the Corve to the Fishmore play area is the most controversial element of this project. It is more controversial than the housing itself.

I knocked on the doors of the 29 houses on Fishmore View and Corve View most affected by the footbridge. Twenty-three households oppose the footbridge, one is in favour and three don’t have an opinion. The other two households are holidaying in the sun.

The residents are opposed to the bridge because they feel it violates a secure place where their children can play in safety. The housing at the Bringewood and the Stantons lacks dog walking areas. Residents already drive from these areas to Fishmore View to walk their dogs in the play area, which is bigger than it looks. At times their cars clog the narrow roads. Residents worry their narrow road will fill with the cars of dog walkers who will use the footbridge to use the new riverside park.

The bridge might be justified if it went anywhere useful. But there are no facilities in the Fishmore area, other than the play area. Walking to the town centre by this route is much longer than along the Bromfield Road.

Travel to town is a significant issue for this site. Those driving will have to drive out of town onto the bypass before returning. Given the parking difficulties in Ludlow, many residents may think that once they are in their cars, they might as well drive elsewhere.

The site is poorly served by buses running along the Bromfield Road. The 704 circular service referred to in officers’ reports has not run for 15 months. The suggestion that existing bus services can be extended to the site defies logic. The developer might consider helping here. It is essential that a bus stop is created on Bromfield Road and that we get the town buses to service it.

None of what I have said so far is a reason for rejecting this development, rather than improving it. The major issue this committee needs to consider is flooding.

We are very worried about flooding in Ludlow. In 2007, we lost bridge and a house. We were lucky not to have lost lives. There have been a number of improvements to water management since then. But that’s no reason for complacency. I can think of no site in Ludlow more likely to increase flooding than this one.

The developer says that rainwater runoff will be attenuated to greenfield runoff rates. I question whether that is feasible.

The flood risk consultants say that 51 litres a second is the current greenfield runoff rate in ordinary circumstances. That rises to 327 litres a second after the houses are built. The consultants say that 2,500 cubic metres of on-site storage are needed to cope with this extra run off.

Let’s talk plain English. 2,500 cubic metres is an Olympic Swimming pool worth of water. That’s a couple of hours of peak rainfall in an ordinary year.

But we plan not for peak rainfall in ordinary years, but the peak in what are known as one in one hundred year events. In a one in one hundred year scenario, this site will generate sufficient extra water, over and above what it generates now, to fill an Olympic Swimming pool in forty minutes. And once the onsite storage system is full, we will be getting an Olympic Swimming pool running into the Corve every 40 minutes.

The first thing it does is to back up Fishmore Brook, flooding Brook Cottage and some of the housing at Summerfields. Then it rushes downstream. As we drove past lower Corve Street this morning, you may have seen the sandbags. They are on permanent standby. This housing will increase the risk of flooding on lower Corve Street.

The developers have not demonstrated that their measures to attenuate flooding are sufficient. We are very scared of flooding in Ludlow.

Taken in the round, the transport issues, the problems of noise, the lack of play area, the bridge across the Corve and the risk of flooding means that this proposal pushes the definition of sustainable development to the limit.

I do not think it right to give outline planning permission until we receive more reassurance that this site will not flood Ludlow. If I wanted to flood Ludlow, I cannot think of a better place to build housing.

But if we could be reassured about flood risk and the developer removed the Fishmore footbridge, I could support housing on this site.

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