Month: October 2015

The Bromfield Meadows housing inquiry – tough, tedious and at times temperamental

My annoyance could not be hidden in my closing remarks to the public inquiry. The planning inspector was getting a bit annoyed with me too. I had really had enough by then. The developer, Tesni, has been heavy handed in pursuing this development from day one. Their public consultation was minimal, limited to a letter drop of nearby houses and an online consultation that few people knew about. They had insisted on an adversarial public inquiry not an inquisitorial hearing. An inquiry is much like a court case with barristers concentrating as much on legal rules to stop arguments being made as presenting a case for or against a development. A hearing is a round table discussion, tightly controlled but less concerned with rules than discovering the merits or otherwise of a development. The inquiry was held, appropriately, in the Ludlow Room in Shirehall. To my left was the Tesni team – a planning barrister flanked by Tesni’s agent and transport consultant. To my right, two council planning officers. I had a desk of my own as a Rule 6 party – a legal status I had taken on to ensure my arguments were fully heard. I faced the inspector…

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Why the streetlights in Ludlow don’t know what time it is at the moment

People have been contacting me to express their annoyance that street lights are currently turning off between 10.30pm and 11pm. That’s an hour earlier than the 12pm shutdown set out in Shropshire Council’s policies. This morning I have received a detailed explanation from Jason Hughes, the council’s street lighting champion. It turns out its all down to technology – pretty dumb technology as it happens. But the council is looking at new tools to improve the way the lights operate. This smart technology (no jokes about brighter street lights please) will allow managers in Shirehall to control lights and identify faults centrally.

If at first you don’t succeed try and fail again – Elm Lodge housing rejected for a second time

Plans for around twenty secure over-55s bungalows at Elm Lodge off Fishmore Road have been rejected for a second time. The decision is correct in planning terms but once again points out that local planning in this town is potentially on the brink of descending into anarchy. Shropshire’s chief planner Ian Kilby refused the plans because the site lies outside the defined development boundary for Ludlow in both the existing local plan and its replacement, SAMDev, which will be adopted shortly. This means the site lies in open countryside where housing development is not permitted except under a very limited set of circumstances, for example affordable housing. Mr Kilby also said the council had a five-year land supply for housing. This is an important consideration in deciding applications. If there is not a five-year land supply, national planning rules allow development to be built where local plans forbid it.

It is dénouement for the plans for 215 houses off Bromfield Road tomorrow

Mostly I am looking forward to tomorrow. The whole day is allocated for a public inquiry into plans for 215 houses above the river Corve between Bromfield Road and the A49. But, unusually for me, there is a touch of nervousness too. The reason I am looking forward to the event is that it will all but bring to a conclusion the long and complex debate over the plans for Bromfield Meadow. They have been thrown out by the South Planning Committee not once, but twice. The committee said the development was unsustainable and the benefits of new housing would be outweighed by the adverse impacts. The committee decided:

Sandpits Road maisonettes to be demolished to make way for homes for the elderly – a scheme Ludlow will be proud of

South Shropshire Housing association has announced plans to demolish the maisonettes on Sandpits Road. The block will be replaced with four two-bed bungalows and 22 apartments (10 two-bed and 12 one-bed). The new homes will be provided as affordable rented properties solely for the use of frail and elderly people on the Council Housing Register. Beech Gardens[1] is an excellent scheme. The town is very much in need of sheltered accommodation like this. Along with councillors Tracey Huffer and Viv Parry, I fully support the scheme.[2] The town council’s representational committee has also given its support.

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