The principle of housing development between Bromfield Road and the A49 was approved at a public inquiry and cannot now be challenged. However, the details of the scheme are very much up for debate and negotiation. One of my main concerns about this 213-home development is its treatment of affordable housing. Thirteen of the 28 affordable homes planned are squeezed into triangle between the railway, Bromfield Road and the A49. These homes will be blighted by noise and pollution.
“Poor doors”, developments where social housing is distinctively different and with reduced access to amenity, have been common in major cities. It now seems that this practice, which the prime minister Theresa May has said should be outlawed looks set to spread to Ludlow.
Signature New Homes, Tesni Properties Ltd and Mrs Susan Jones have applied for detailed planning permission for 213 homes off Bromfield Road, south of the A49. Access will be via a pedestrian footbridge over the railway and a new roundabout on the A49.
I have some concerns about this development. Top of the list is the way that affordable housing is being managed on the site.
In London and some other cities, new developments have discriminated against social tenants by introducing what are known as “poor doors”. These separate residents in affordable housing from private purchasers and leaseholders. In one notorious case in Southwark, affordable housing was provided off site because the property company said it wasn’t viable to provide separate entrances and doing so “would have significant implications on the values of the private residential properties.” In other developments, social tenants are denied access to courtyard gardens and car parking and must enter apartment blocks through side door.
This practice is unacceptable but according to a recent report in the Guardian it still goes on.
On 19 September, Prime Minister Theresa May addressed the National Housing Federation. She said:
“Whether unintentionally or by design, the decisions we make about the homes we build for social rent – their location, quality and appearance – can all too easily make them distinct from the community in which they stand. This, in turn, can cement prejudice and stigma among those who live in them and wider society, leading to lowered expectations and restricted opportunities.”
“It shouldn’t be this way.”
“On a new mixed-tenure development, the social housing should not be tucked away behind the private homes, out of sight and out of mind.”
A ministerial speech doesn’t write planning policy, even when it is the prime minister, but it does show the intentions of government. The plans for affordable housing in this Bromfield Road development neither meet the aspirations of the prime minister or promote wellbeing and healthy lifestyles as set out in national planning rules and guidance.
The affordable housing is squeezed into the north west corner of the site. Thirteen of the homes are between the railway, Bromfield Road, A49 and a retail unit car park. The mixed species hedge along Bromfield Road and the prunus towards the railway will not provide effective screening for noise or reduce exposure to NO2 and particulates from road, rail and the car park. Residents with gardens, will find them unpleasant to use. As designed at present, scheme does not promote wellbeing and healthy lifestyles in line with the National Planning Policy Framework.
At the Foldgate Lane development, affordable housing is distributed around the site as it should be.
The developers at Bromfield Road are only aiming to provide 13% affordable housing not the 15% required by Shropshire Council’s policies. This shortfall denies four households an affordable home in an area where affordable housing is in short supply.
There is much more work to do on this application. I have asked for the application to be considered by the South Planning Committee.