Month: August 2015

Ludlow youth services at verge of collapse as commissioning fails

We’ve been working hard to commission new youth services for Ludlow after Shropshire Council decided to make its youth staff redundant to save money. We’ve been allocated just £10,850 a year for services and even that is not guaranteed beyond March 2017. We’ve never been happy with the commissioning process, which has been too centralised and bureaucratic, with ridiculously high overheads. But we have worked hard to ensure that we get something in place for September for the sake of the young people of this town. Our invitation to tender has received no bids at all and there is every prospect of having no youth services in Ludlow from September onwards. Tracey Huffer and I are so concerned about the problems with the commissioning process, we have referred the matter to the council’s auditors.

Clarifying planning permission for Ludlow Hospital

At the public meeting on 30 July, it was suggested that the current hospital site has planning permission for 47 homes. This is not the case. In July 2013, the site was accepted for 47 homes during consultations on SAMDev – the local plan for development sites. The hospital site had been put forward by the Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust (CHT) on the assumption the site would become vacant when the new hospital was built on the Eco Park. Of course, the new hospital was never built. The East Hamlet site was dropped from SAMDev because there was no prospect it would become available. It is still designated as employment land. The CHT did not at any point submit a planning application. Should Ludlow Hospital close – and none of us want that – the site will be treated as a windfall brownfield development. The CHT, or more likely NHS Property Services, will need to apply for planning permission in the usual way. Under current government rules, change of use from employment to housing is unlikely to be a barrier to planning permission.

Shropshire Council advice on organising street parties is confused but it’s really all very simple

If there is one thing that Ludlow does well, its organising a party. But the rules for organising in our county a street party are somewhat confused. I’m trying to get them clarified and have issued a simplified application form in the meantime. I know a number of people are thinking of organising a street party, either in this glorious summer (!) or for HM Queen’s 90th birthday on Sunday 12 June next year.

Proposals for 137 homes at Foldgate Lane look set for rejection after officer report

An outline proposal for 137 homes on the edge of Ludlow has generated considerable controversy. There have been 105 objections from members of the public and just one supporting comment. Now, Shropshire planning policy officers say that the plans breach local planning rules. They don’t make any recommendation as to whether the development should be approved or rejected, but given the strength of their comments, approval of the plans now looks unlikely. The plans were first revealed in July 2014 and an outline planning application was submitted that October. Consideration of the plans was delayed in February of this year, after the Highways Agency raised concerns about a proposed T-junction onto the A49. In July, Highways England, which replaced the Highways Agency in April, withdrew its holding objection. This cleared the way for a decision on the scheme. Last week, planning officers produced an analysis of the policy context. They say the site is not proposed as a housing site in SAMDev – the plan that allocates development sites around Ludlow and across the county. The developers, Turley Associates and Richborough Estates, had tried to get the Foldgate Lane site included in SAMDev but the planning inspector did not accept…

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There has been a welcome breakthrough in the battle for affordable housing in Shropshire

The breakthrough came in at the high court in London on Friday. Mr Justice Holgate ruled that a coalition government policy to exempt many housing developments of ten or fewer homes from paying a contribution towards affordable housing is incompatible with planning law. That law says the local development plan should guide development but ministers had ignored that. In doing so, they went too far. It has been the case for decades that national laws, policy and guidance give the framework for planning. Councils then draw up local plans that must comply with the national rules before they are approved by the planning inspectorate. (In our case, the local plans are the Core Strategy and SAMDev.) If the law or national policy changes, local plans will need to change. But what ministers can’t do is issue diktats that override local plans. Well, they thought they could, but this judgement shows that they can’t. As a result of Mr Justice Holgate’s ruling, the government has announced that it will delete the nine paragraphs of national planning guidance that direct councils not to seek affordable housing contributions from small developments or from developments that bring empty buildings, such as offices, back into…

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