“The first act of any developer is to ransack the countryside and cut everything down.”
That’s typical of many comments I have received recently from people concerned about the impact new developments are having on the hedgerows and trees around the edge of our town. This is quite a new phenomenon as Ludlow has tended to approve developments rather than get them built. Now, we have work beginning again on Foldgate Lane, the Sainsbury’s supermarket storming ahead and housing being built south of Rocks Green. Preparation work is also underway on Sheet Road and that had led a new round of complaints and enquiries.
We are allowing developers to get away with too much and are failing to demand ambitious regreening schemes.
To begin at Sheet Road. The development of around 70 homes between the Eco Park and Sheet Village is expected begin in earnest in April. In preparation for that, the hedge along Sheet Road has been removed. It was quite a reasonable specimen of a biodiverse hedge though had no trees.
The removal is in line with the planning permission and the S278 agreement – that’s the agreement that developers must make with the local highways authority to link a scheme to the road network.
We learnt a lesson from the Foldgate Lane housing development. The developer won planning permission on an appeal based on plans that showed only limited loss of trees along the A49. However, the plans did not meet Highways England’s specification for connections to the strategic road network (SRN). The result was late changes to the design of the road junction to increase visibility to secure the S278 agreement. That led to the unexpected losses of hundreds of trees.
The plans for Sheet Road indicated that the hedge will be removed. They also show that a footpath will be created to the bus stop on the Eco Park. That at least is a good thing.
What concerns me is the plans for landscaping. It is the same old same old we see every day with new developments. Plant a few trees on a spare green space. That’s the green bit ticked off. Job done.
There is still an opportunity to improve the planting on the Sheet Road development. I hope our home grown green community will take up the challenge.
In contrast, there is little hope for the Sainsbury’s supermarket at Rocks Green. The proposals squeeze as much car parking as can possibly be achieved on the site. There is a plan to plant trees and a low hedge around the site. These will not screen the development – Sainsbury’s doesn’t want that. Neither are they likely to be biodiversity rich. Shropshire Council’s tree team said the trees are likely to fare poorly or die. I objected to the plans for landscaping but found no support from other councillors.
Planners are now beginning to talk green. But they are not allowed to think green. They are hampered by a planning system which has been has become ever more laissez-faire under recent governments, bulldozing rough greenery aside in favour of manicured lawns and trees.
Many Shropshire developers are not thinking green either. There will be precious little green space on the Quarry development. We are expecting an appeal to build on Castle View Terrace any day.
This attitude may change when the Environmental Bill brings in the concept of net biodiversity gain for developments. But that bill has yet again been delayed in parliament. The government’s focus on carbon reduction – an essential goal – has distracted it from the need to ensure we halt the decline in biodiversity.
We need to change that locally and insist on greener developments.