Shropshire Council is concluding its consultation on how the county will development from now until 2038. For Ludlow nothing changes from the existing plans. I think this is a mistake.
My long held view is that we should plan for a flourishing garden suburb east of the A49. That hasn’t been a popular view but if we had put in place a masterplan for that area in 2012, we would not have had housing developments imposed on us at Foldgate Lane and off Bromfield Road by planning inspectors.
No future development is not an option available to us. We can either plan for a sustainable development east of the bypass or just leave Ludlow’s future to the whims of planners and inspectors as they make day by day decisions based on a planning rulebook that seems to have little relevance to Ludlow.
The local plan review consultation closes at 5pm tonight. The 340 page consultation document is technical and says little new about Ludlow. But in my view that is a trap. If one of the major developments proposed or underway in Ludlow fails, under the current planning regime we could have housing area imposed on us. That could be urban sprawl towards Bromfield or view blocking developments south of Ludford village. These sites have been actively promoted by landowners.
That’s why I believe we must plan for a 1,000 home garden suburb to the east of the bypass. It might take fifty years to build. But if we design it well. Make it a UK leading sustainable green community. Ludlow will be proud of it. And those that follow us will thank us for having a vision for the future of our town.
Part of my submission to the Local Plan Review
The current draft proposes no changes in housing and employment locations from those proposed in SAMDev. In the short term, this is pragmatic but it is not the right approach to strategic planning for Ludlow.
The sustainability of Ludlow’s developments has been weakened by the approval at appeal of 137 homes at Foldgate Lane, with vehicle access only from the A49. A second appeal approved 213 homes off Bromfield Road, also only accessible by vehicle from the A49 and continuing problems with resolving pedestrian access. These two settlements look outwards from Ludlow and have little prospect of a regular bus connection with the town centre. They are prime examples of the developments we should be rejecting in Shropshire as poor examples of unsustainable urban planning.
In Ludlow, we are in danger of more such unplanned developments during the plan period. A failure of one of the approved or pipeline major sites will leave Ludlow facing a shortfall from its indicative target of 1,000 dwellings over the plan period.
Shropshire Council currently has well in excess of the required five-year land supply, but any failure to build out approved housing developments will lead to pressure on other greenfield sites.
These include undesirable sites along the A49 towards Bromfield, south of Ludford village and in the Burway and Sheet areas. These are marked in yellow on the plan below. These sites were rejected at Stage 2 of the Site Assessment but could come back to haunt us Ludlow falls significantly short of its indicative target.
In the early days of SAMDev, proposals were discussed for allocating the land east of the A49 between Rocks Green and Sheet Road for housing development. The early discussions over SAMDev in 2021 suggested a masterplan for this area. In one document in 2012, Shropshire Council said:
“It is envisaged that development in this area will form the first part of a comprehensive and co-ordinated longer term ‘masterplanned’ growth of the town between Sheet Road and Rocks Green in line with community aspirations.”
I argued at the time that we should plan a Ludlow Garden Suburb east of the A49 to be built over the next several decades. This was dropped in the final draft of the plan without public explanation. That was a mistake. We could have a stronger case against the Bromfield Road and Foldgate Lane developments if we had had a basic plan to shape sustainable expansion of Ludlow.
There has been no discussion of how Ludlow grows in the longer term. The Regulation 18 draft local plan leaves the town vulnerable to speculative development if any one of the larger sites allocated and approved fails for build out. We should resurrect the concept of coherently planned development east of the bypass. At this late stage of the local plan draft, I believe it would be sufficient to allocate the future direction of growth post-2038.
A masterplan should be developed ahead of the next local plan review which is likely to begin around 2025. This should set out plans for a suburb designed on garden village principles east of the A49 bypass between Rocks Green and Sheet. Developments are already approved at the north and south ends of this area. No land is yet allocated in between but both developments incorporate the beginnings of a link road parallel to the A49. However, neither approved development shows any recognisance that that they will be part of a larger suburb.
It might take five decades or more to build out a “Ludlow Garden Suburb”. We should begin planning now. We should set out our ambitions for education, community and health facilities. For a broad wildlife corridor and environmental network. For a coherent policy on active travel that reduces car dependency and provides an attractive network for walking and cycling. For high design and carbon standards.
Individual developments are currently approved on their merits and sometimes they are not that meritorious. Neither of the two approved developments south of Rocks Green and north of Sheet Road achieves these ambitions. We can and must do better. We can never achieve the ambition of sustainable growth unless we plan strategically.
In summary, my proposal is for the current local plan review to specify an indicative direction of growth for Ludlow in. We should then work on a masterplan that will promote a suburb east of the A49 which will become an exemplar for sustainable caron neutral 21st century planning.
For the avoidance of doubt, I am not proposing any increase in the indicative target for housing in Ludlow over the plan period to 2038. I am arguing the case for longer term master planning. We must get out of the trap of permitting developments as they are proposed just because they tick the boxes. We need a vision that will take us through towards the second half of the century.