In a significant victory for those who battle to keep the character of Ludlow intact, council officers have rejected a proposal for six homes (initially seven) on the much loved and well used meadow on Castle View Terrace.
One of the main reasons for rejecting the scheme is that we have approved more than enough houses in Ludlow. This decision is also important because the loss of open space is central to the planners’ reason for rejection.
Ludlow’s community has made a reasonable offer for the land of £130,000. That should cover the developer’s land purchase and design costs. But Shropshire Homes wants £250,000 to recompense for lost profits as well as well as costs. Those profits are imaginary. The scheme has been thrown out, Shropshire Homes should now cut its losses and do a deal with Ludlow.
This decision was made by planning officers last week (20/02971/FUL). I had asked for the application to go to the Southern Planning Committee for a decision if officers were minded approving it. Officers were not so minded. This was a scheme was a clear reject. It breaches local planning policies. And we have approved more housing for Ludlow that we need to build or required to build. Our guideline for Ludlow’s expansion was set at 875 homes in 2014. We have approved more than that and the new local plan will not impose more housing on Ludlow.
The planning report also says:
“[Council] policies recognise the importance that green open space plays in the wellbeing of the community. This proposal will significantly reduce the existing open space available to existing residents whilst increasing the pressure on the remaining area by increasing the number of residents using the space. The site performs an important function as one of the few areas of informal open space in the centre of Ludlow and its loss would be detrimental to the amenities of the existing community.”
This Castle View Terrace application has been one of the most controversial in Ludlow. It attracted a ferocious and well organised response from residents in the area and across Ludlow.
Originally the scheme was for seven homes. That crowded out the plot. Shropshire Homes said the space behind the bungalow would be public open space. That claim was soon shown to be farcical when more detailed information showed the green area to be inaccessible and on a 45 degree slope.
The bungalow at the back had always looked incongruous and too close to a slowly collapsing quarry face. It was taken out of the plans and the public open space expanded. The design of the six terraced houses facing the existing housing on Castle View Terrace was improved. But it could still be anywhere housing. Standard housing designs with a few tweaks.
There were many objections on traffic grounds. Castle View Terrace is a street that does not need any more traffic. But there was no objection from Shropshire Council’s highways team. Highways rarely objects to anything in planning.
The rejection ought to be a knockout blow. Planning doesn’t work like that.
The developer would have paid Shropshire Council a fee of around £3,000 to process the application. The main costs to a developer are drawing up plans, modifying them and any ground investigations. Some developers use planning lawyers to handle the application and correspondence with planning system and consultees. That was approach taken at Linney House, where the applications have been confrontational.
Castle View Terrace was very different and the developer, Shropshire Homes has directly engaged with officers and the community. I have no argument with the way the application was presented and the community consulted. If only that was the case for all developments.
Doing things the right way doesn’t mean a developer will get approval. Shropshire Homes did not get approval and is likely to appeal.
Appeals to the planning inspectorate are free. The costs come in preparing documents, though some developers of small schemes simply resubmit the original application with a covering argument. But Shropshire Council must submit the case history, the local policy context and statements of common ground. The developer can also petition for their costs to be paid by the council. Costs can be awarded to the council if an appeal is made that has no reasonable prospect of success.
There is no reasonable prospect of success for this scheme.
Residents made a decent offer to purchase the field and keep it as open space for the community. Shropshire Homes should recognise that they are on a losing wicket and allow Ludlow to buy the land to keep it as open space in perpetuity.