I have objected to plans to extend a third floor flat above Joules and the hospice shop, 9-10 King Street, with a north facing roof terrace. The balcony, which will be 10.5 metres (34ft) above ground level, would break up the established roofline. Residents or holidaymakers in the flat will overlook the bedroom windows of two of the new almshouses. They will gaze over the roof of the almshouses to St Lawrence’s Church and the 17th Century Reader’s House, both Grade I listed. Looking from Church Walk, the balcony will be in full view. It will also be seen from Tower Street.
Legislation and case law make clear considerable importance and weight should be given to preserving the setting of listed buildings when making planning decisions. That is why this application should be rejected.
Ludlow Town Council and the Ludlow Conservation Area Advisory Committee have objected to the application, as has a residents of the almshouses (20/02076/FUL). No one objects to creating a third floor flat and this already has permission. It is the protruding balcony that disrupts the historic setting of two of Ludlow’s most important heritage assets.
Councillor Andy Boddington. 9 July 2020.
Having studied this application in detail, I cannot support it. The proposed balcony will be in the setting of two Grade I listed buildings and will be above two bedroom windows.
The proposed balcony will interrupt the pitched roofline at the rear of King Street. It will be visible from one of Ludlow’s cherished views as people walk from the churchyard towards the south front of the church.
The terrace will, as pointed out by LCAAC, will also be visible from Tower Street (though the LCAAC objection erroneously refers to King Street).
Church Walk is a quiet passageway. It does not have the noise and bustle of King Street itself. Only a few patrons of pubs use Church Walk because it does not lead to residential areas (with the exception of the almshouses and College Court, all retirement settlements). It is an oasis of quiet in the town centre, with its garden of rest (part of St Laurence’s churchyard) and the Jubilee Garden. Both are areas where visitors can currently expect a quiet environment and be allowed to contemplate, without any disturbance from elevated balconies.
The balcony will be high above two almshouses windows. It is difficult to work out whether people standing on the balcony will be able to see into the bedroom windows of the almshouses apartments. But noise will be heard. Our almshouses house vulnerable people. That is their purpose and they should be able to reside with peace and dignity.
Although noise is a public protection issue, we are required to plan for the safety and amenity of residents. We should not plan in disturbance for residents from an elevated terrace. There are no precedents for elevated terraces in Ludlow town centre. [This was an error on my part. There is a terrace on the Church Inn.]
The proposed balcony will be a notable intrusion into the conservation area and the settings of two Grade I listed buildings, the Reader’s House and St Lawrence’s Church. It will detract from the historic environment of Church Walk. The harm to heritage assets is less than substantial but it is nevertheless significant in the context of the setting of St Laurence’s Church and the Reader’s House.
It is established case law that considerable importance and weight should be given to the desirability of preserving the setting of listed buildings when making planning decisions (Barnwell Manor, etc.). In his Penshurst judgment, Justice Lindblom said: “A finding of harm to the setting of a listed building or to a conservation area gives rise to a strong presumption against planning permission being granted. The presumption is a statutory one. It is not irrebuttable. It can be outweighed by material considerations powerful enough to do so.”
In this case of this application, I cannot accept that the material consideration of a larger and outdoor space for a third floor flat outweighs damage to the setting of Grade I heritage assets.
I join Ludlow Town Council and LCAAC in objecting to this proposal. Shropshire Council should apply the strong presumption against planning permission being granted in these circumstances.
If planning officers are minded to support this application, I request that it is determined by the Southern Planning Committee.