Can the inspector’s decision to approve 137 homes off Foldgate Lane be challenged? Yes, but it is not easy.

Shropshire Council, parish councils or residents could launch a judicial review against the decision by the planning inspectorate. This must be lodged within six weeks of the appeal decision on 10 November. I think Shropshire Council should launch a judicial review.

Judicial reviews are a challenge to the way in which a decision has been made, not the rights and wrongs of the conclusion reached. That means that the inspector must have misinterpreted legislation or planning rules, acted in an unfair manner, or failed to consider important information for a judicial review to succeed. If these flaws are found, a high court judge can quash the appeal decision. In these cases, the appeal is usually reheard under a different inspector.

Sometimes, a judicial review doesn’t get as far as the high court. The first stage is a pre-action letter. The planning inspectorate has on many occasions immediately accepted defeat on receipt of the pre-action letter. In these cases, the letter has pointed out significant flaws in the planning process. But the developers often fight on in the high court independently of the inspectors.

Richborough is not going to accept defeat. It boasts that it has a 100% success rate in housing planning applications.[1] It is likely to contest any judicial review through the courts whatever the planning inspectorate thinks.


Is there a case for a judicial review?

We won’t know the answer to this question without legal advice. I understand that Shropshire Council has been discussing whether to obtain this advice.

Ludford Parish Council, Ludlow Town Council and myself have written to Shropshire Council asking it to seek advice on a judicial review for this appeal decision.

I am not a lawyer. But my detailed analysis of the inspector’s report suggests that it is significantly flawed. I am adament that Shropshire Council should launch a legal challenge to this decision.

We need to protect the integrity of our local plan, SAMDev. We need to protect the planning policies that allow Ludlow to grow in an organised and sustainable way. If this appeal decision is allowed to stand, we will have free-for-all development – not just in Ludlow but across all of Shropshire.

What happens if there is no judicial review?

Richborough Estates was behind this appeal. It doesn’t develop sites. It gets planning permission and then sells the sites on to a developer. It works on a “no win, no fee” basis, carrying all the costs up until the land is sold to a developer. At that point it charges a fee.

This means that we do not know who the developer of this site will be.

Under the planning permission granted by the inspector Callum Parker, there are a lot of restrictions. Planning conditions limit the number of homes on the site to 137. The development must be carried out “substantially in accordance” with the Proposed Indicative Masterplan and the Landscape Masterplan. A S106 document, a legally binding agreement between Shropshire Council and Richborough, states that 25% of the dwellings must be affordable. Full permission (“reserved matters”) must be applied for within three years.

But beware. Now that Richborough has established that the site is a sustainable location for development in the eyes of the planning inspectorate, it is open for the developer to come back and get these conditions changed. That could mean, for example, more houses and less green space. It could mean fewer affordable homes if the developer argues that 25% affordability would make the development unviable.[2] I’d hope that Shropshire Council would fight any changes but that could well lead to another appeal.


[1]. Before the Foldgate Lane appeal, Richborough Estates lodged seven appeals for housing developments with the planning inspectorate, winning all of them. The sites were in Staffordshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire.

[2]. S106 agreements can be modified with the agreement of Shropshire Council. (See this useful explanation by Hertsmere Council.)

12 thought on “An inspector approved 137 houses at Foldgate Lane – his decision can be challenged”
  1. Well explained as always Andy……but this country needs more housing. As always the country agrees …unless it’s on my doorstep.I think a broader view is required.

  2. the Telegraph, no less, produced an excellent article on the subject of the inappropriate influence that developers had on the creation of the new planning arrangements and their ability to bully their way to over-ride refused applications (easily found via google). The article mentions in particular Taylor Wimpey and lo and behold one of their senior people has recently joined Richborough Estates – say no more.

  3. It’s a fact more homes are required. Without this site of 137, how many new homes can we expect to see built in Ludlow over the next 5 years ?
    And how many affordable homes can we expect ?
    One other point, who pays all the legal costs for the appeals ?

    1. We do plan to build more homes. Between 2006 and 2026 – the planning period – we have already approved around 885 homes in Ludlow. We also have 200 homes in the pipeline south of Rocks Green. So that’s an increase in population in Ludlow by 2026 of more than 2,000 people (about 20%). I can’t give accurate figures on affordable housing without digging out the data but I will come back to this in future article about housing in Ludlow.

    2. And on your second point. Shropshire Council paid its own costs for the Bromfield Road and Foldgate Lane appeals. The developers in both appeals did not seek costs.

      1. “Shropshire Council paid its own costs”

        By that you mean the taxpayer has footed the bills for one legal appeal after another. And now another one looming?

        Starkly illustrating just how out of touch our Council and Councillors are with public sentiment. Shirehall, meanwhile, continues to impose swingeing austerity cutbacks that hit Ludlow particularly hard. While frittering millions on vexatious legal challenges. More in the courts from a council humiliated by its evaporating authority?

        In the Planning Appeal against 215 homes earmarked for Bromfield Road, Shropshire Council didn’t even bother submitting evidence at the Inquiry. So why did it challenge the Inspector’s decision in the first place? What an incoherent mess is Shropshire Council and its planning committee.

      1. Thanks for that info Andy.And built? On a broader level we both remember Milton Keynes. I used to live in the OLD MK before it was destroyed. Whilst I wouldn’t wish that on Ludlow what is the balance between expansion to create a viable town and its destruction?

  4. So we are 10 years into the housing plan, in those 10 years have we seen 442 houses built? Or have there been 885 approvals, with what percentage of the approvals completed.
    What are the costs to the people of Ludlow for these planning appeals?

  5. A reply to KEVIN et al would be good,Starting a debate and then backing off is not your normal style !

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