This application has now been approved. Unusually, there is no officer’s report accompanying the approval, which means we cannot examine the justification for approving the scheme.
Crest Nicholson has planning permission for 137 homes in Ludford parish off Foldgate Lane. This was controversial at every point but was approved by a planning inspector who had spent a few days in the area. That’s history. The housing is set to be built. Now plans have been submitted from the owners of the Grade II listed Foldgate Farm for a further five homes in their orchard. Impact on heritage, site access and the impact on the orchard are likely to be the biggest issues.
The application has been submitted from Richard and Clare Maddicott (19/01940/FUL).
Their agent describes the proposed houses as modest three or four bedroom properties with generous living areas at ground level. Three of the properties have balconies looking towards the Mortimer Forest. The ground floor of the properties will be red brick to match that of Foldgate Farm. The first floor will be English Larch.
Planning officers are supportive. In their pre-application advice, they say that the settlement boundary for Ludlow is likely to be extended to include Ludford in this summer’s review of the site allocations plan, SAMDev. They add: “Whilst the current proposals represent a departure from current housing policy this may not be inappropriate if other relevant policies can be satisfied.” Officers were shown two options. One was a courtyard design and the other a linear arrangement parallel to Foldgate Lane. They said that a courtyard design was more in keeping with the area.
There are several critical issues with this proposal.
Top of the list is access to the development off Foldgate Lane, a country lane that is too narrow to take more traffic. At this stage, the proposers have not provided any assessment of traffic impact. It’s not just vehicles from the residents that are of concern. It’s also the waste and recycling trucks and couriers. But Shropshire Council highways say: “The principle of this proposed development for the erection five dwellings here, is likely to be acceptable from a highway perceptive.” I think Highways are wrong. The site should be accessed from the Crest Nicholson development. The barns at Foldgate Farm itself are likely to be redeveloped for housing at some point because they will be isolated from farmland. Arrangements should be made to access that site from the Crest Nicholson site also.
Heritage in also a vital issue. Planning officers say: “The most important policy consideration for the proposals is the need to respect the setting of the nearby Grade II listed farmhouse.” The heritage impact report is written by the owner of Foldgate Farm and the proposer of this development. He does not give his qualifications for writing an important technical report.
The ecological report is by a volunteer ecologist, who also does not provide information on his formal qualifications. Based on officer’s initial advice, the minimum hedgerow removal will be 34 metres. But there is some doubt about where the highway ends and Foldgate Farm begins. Depending on the resolution of this:
“More than 50 metres of mature roadside hedge [could] be lost. This would represent an unacceptable impact on the curtilage edge and an alternative means of access via the private lane to Foldgate Farmhouse would need to be considered.”
Planning officers say that more apple trees should be planted. The hedgerow and orchard were shown on the 1847 Tithe Award Map for Ludford – “There is no need or justification for eroding further the quality and integrity of the historic hedgerow that abuts Foldgate Lane.” Shropshire Council’s tree team has said that the access should be from the existing access to Foldgate Farm to preserve, “the screening function of the existing roadside vegetation.”
Parking surfaces will be permeable with three parking spaces for each property. There is no information on EV charging points. Overhead and telephone cables will be undergrounded.