Residents of Greenacres, Foldgate view and elsewhere will by breathing a sigh of relief at the news that plans by Turley and Richborough Estates for 137 homes off Foldgate Lane and the A49 have been rejected by planning officers (14/04608/OUT). But the battle is not over yet as the companies are bound to appeal the decision to the planning inspectorate.
Now this scheme is not coming to the South Planning Committee, I can speak freely about the plans. I have never liked this scheme. It is sprawl across green fields that we do not need as we have allocated housing sites elsewhere.
I take my hat off to the dignified and considerate way that Turley and Richborough conducted local consultations. They were honest enough to say they would press ahead regardless of public opinion. And public opinion was whole-heartedly against this scheme. There were 105 objections and just one expression of support.
The access to the site would have been from a T-Junction onto the A49. This would be a death trap. It joins the road at the point where motorists are often travelling at 70 mph or more. I was amazed when Highways England gave its support for the junction.
The scheme would also have destroyed the character of Foldgate Lane and, despite the developers’ denials, I think it would have led to an unacceptable level of traffic on the lane.
The main reason that the development was rejected is that it lies outside the development boundary of Ludlow as defined in the nearly finalised local plan, SAMDev. As such, the site is in open countryside where development is heavily restricted by a policy document known as the core strategy.
The formal reason for rejection is:
The proposed site lies in open countryside outside the development boundary for Ludlow as defined on the Policies Map of the emerging Sites Assessment and Management of Development (SAMDev) Plan and its predecessor, the South Shropshire Local Plan, which will shortly be replaced by the SAMDev Plan. As a result the proposal would be contrary to the development plan for the area. The development would have an adverse impact on the visual amenity of open countryside on the edge of the town and the need for housing land in Ludlow will be met elsewhere on sites allocated for residential development in SAMDev. There are no material considerations that weigh in favour of granting permission for the proposal contrary to the development plan. The proposal fails to accord with Policies CS1, CS3, CS5 and CS17 of the Shropshire Local Development Framework Adopted Core Strategy, Policy S10 of the emerging SAMDev Plan and ‘saved’ policy SDS 3 of the South Shropshire Local Plan.
These are very strong grounds for refusal and I think they form a sound basis for Shropshire Council winning the inevitable appeal. This is why this site did not need to go to planning committee. It is such a clear cut decision in planning policy terms that the committee would have been asked to do nothing other than rubber stamp the officer recommendation. We are a busy committee and it is better that we concentrate on the complex and controversial applications.
The rejection of this site has particular implications for plans to build 215 houses on the other side of town, between Bromfield Road and the A49. This scheme, known as Bromfield Meadow, is currently at appeal, with a hearing scheduled for late October. It is very similar to the Foldgate Lane development and has been thrown out by the planning committee twice. The developer, Tesni, was to submit a third application this autumn. It has decided against doing so after being told by officers that it would probably be rejected without even going to committee because the site is not included in SAMDev.
So what’s to stop Bromfield Meadow being thrown out at appeal? The difficulty is that Shropshire Council and the South Planning Committee have decided not to defend the appeal. I will be at the inquiry with the same legal status as a barrister (a so-called ‘Rule 6’ party). But I have restricted my brief to opposing the proposed footbridge to Fishmore View – in part to avoid having to personally pay the developer’s costs should we lose the appeal. So there is no one to press the case for rejection.
I will however be writing to the planning inspectorate to ask if I might make a late submission pointing out the importance of the Foldgate Lane decision. The inspector would be within rights to reject a late submission and the developer is bound to object. But the inspector is legally bound to consider the application against the current planning framework, so I don’t see how SAMDev and the Foldgate Lane decision can be ignored.
Rejection of the Bromfield Meadow scheme would mean that we could get back to developing brownfield sites within the town and the allocated greenfield sites at Rocks Green and adjacent to the Eco Park.