Month: May 2016

Third time lucky for Stone House? New plans for 44 retirement apartments submitted but are they right for Ludlow? – updated

Update 25 June 2016 This application will be considered by the South Planning Committee on 19 July. Main article 19 May 2016 It’s taking some time to get this application right. This often happens in significant planning applications and my view is that it is always worth taking the time to get an application right. Housing built today will still be around in a hundred years’ time and we need to get it right. The first application for this site didn’t find favour with planners and conservations. It was revised but still failed to convince the town council, neighbours and myself. Now we have a third scheme. The application is for 44 retirement apartments and conversion of the stable block into four one bed affordable flats (16/02033/FUL).

Update 6 July 2016 This application has been refused by council planners, who once again described the building as an “uncompromising and alien feature”: The plans and elevations submitted with the application, by virtue of the scale and massing of the resultant dwelling, would result in an uncompromising and alien feature when viewed from the street scene. The building does not pay regard to the smaller scale buildings sited on the same side of the road and it is considered that the dwelling would be considered harmful to the character of the wider conservation area, contrary to Core Strategy policies CS3, CS6, CS17, SAMDev policies MD1, MD2, MD12, MD13 and S10 and the guidance contained within the NPPF. This is the second application for a house on this site to be refused. It is clear that only a very sensitive design that respects the historic character of lower Corve Street could get approval on this site. Update 10 June 2016 I have submitted a formal objection to this scheme. I think it will damage the historic landscape of lower Corve Street and damage the conservation area: This second planning application places the house in a better location than the previous…

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Shropshire’s unitary council has failed and it's hurting our county

I want to write “the unitary experiment has failed”. But it’s not an experiment, it’s the real thing. And the political failure of the unitary council is damaging our county. The unitary council’s idea of civic leadership is to keep to itself grant money that the government intended for town and parish councils. It leads the county by telling local councils they have weeks to adopt services such as libraries, museums and leisure centres, or they will be closed down. Its concept of leading is to hold down its council tax but exhort parish and town councils to raise their precepts through the roof. The unitary council was established to bring together county services under one organisation. This would save costs. We would get better services for less money. Few people in this part of Shropshire thought the move to a unitary authority was a good idea. But it happened anyway.

Communities minister Greg Clark visited Shirehall yesterday and council leaders were engaged in an extensive lobbying exercise to get a fairer funding deal for our county. I have no doubt that the meeting was a useful briefing for Mr Clark, and he will have heard how different Shropshire is from his own constituency of Tunbridge Wells in Kent.[1]  Nevertheless, he promised council leaders absolutely no more money. Nothing. Zilch. Sweet Fanny Adams. I wonder if Mr Clark was shown the agenda for next Thursday’s council meeting. Because he might have been shocked that a council lobbying for greater recognition in the scheme of things has absolutely nothing on its agenda. Nothing. Zilch. Sweet Fanny Adams. It is a complete political vacuum.

At a meeting last night, Ludlow Town Council decided to ask Shropshire Council for extra time to negotiate the transfer of services from Shirehall to community control. The town council wants two years to negotiate with the unitary council and to build the local capacity to take on services. It wants to work with other councils around the county to create a strong negotiating position and share experiences. Many councillors were concerned about how to distribute costs across the parishes that use Ludlow services. They felt Ludlow residents should not have to pay the entire bill. I was proud of the town council last night for the quality of debate and the incisiveness of the arguments. It was a council that recognised that if it had to take on services, it must get the arrangements and finances right. That can’t be done in just a few months. We unitary councillors are fully behind the council’s strategy of seeking more time to examine the implications of service transfer and to ensure than any services transferred can be run effectively and efficiently.

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