Fishmore Quarry bank application must ensure Castle View Terrace meadow is protected

Fishmore Quarry bank application must ensure Castle View Terrace meadow is protected

A second application has been lodged to stabilise the rock face at Fishmore Quarry. The first was approved yesterday and will involve construction of a green wall with a grass and wildflower slope above. This second application is more difficult. Part of the rock face will be secured with rock nails. The less stable soil above will be secured with soil nails and meshing.

The controversial part of the proposal will involve regrading the slope along the south west edge of Castle View Terrace meadow. This will remove about 11% of the meadow. In order to carry out the works, Shropshire Homes are likely to bring construction vehicles onto the meadow and that could damage the historic soil structure. It seems inevitable that this application will be approved but everything must be done to protect the meadow and its historic brick wall.

This the second application seeking to stabilise the quarry face. The first application in June proposed a green wall and slope to buttress the quarry cliff on the south part of the site. This application seeks to use different technology to stabilise the quarry face on the north part of the site.

To explain the combined proposals, I have divided the quarry face into four zones.

Planning application 21/02832/FUL (approved)

Zone 1. Terramesh Reinforced Soil Structure – rectangular wire cells filled with granular particles, such as gravel and crushed rock, which will form a green wall. It will be planted with a

Zone 2. Built up ground will slope from the Zone 1 up to Castle View Terrace. This will be covered with topsoil and planted with grasses to contribute to the green wall. The slope will help protect properties on Castle View Terrace.

Planning application 21/03246/FUL (to be determined)

Zone 3. This area is to be graded at a slope of 1:2.35 (43%). On my estimate, 11.5% of the meadow will be lost by the grading. Shropshire Homes says around 10% of the meadow will be lost. The difference is down to where the meadow being and ends. There is no doubt this is the most controversial part of the proposal as it intrudes into the meadow, on which Shropshire Homes is hoping to build four homes. After grading, the plan is to sow the slope with a tussock grass mixture which, once established, requires little or no maintenance and will form a habitat for insects, small mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. It will be inaccessible to the public and that will boost biodiversity. At the top of the graded slope will be a 1.1 metre high fence, with a new hedge on the meadow side.

Zone 4. This area is a craggy rock face. Where there is a danger of rockfall, the boulders will be held in place with rock bolting. Higher areas will be stabilised with soil nails and meshing. Several of the trees will be coppiced and the area will be allowed to regrow.

It is frustrating to have such important details of a major housing scheme put forward at such a late stage when the development is well underway. The quarry face has been an important wildlife corridor and there is no doubt that the stabilisation scheme will reduce its value for some years to come. However, there are no alternative proposals on the table and the quarry face needs to be made safe.

Ludlow Town Council has supported the work without comment. Resdients of Castle View Terrace have however raised raising concerns about damage to the meadow during works on Zone 3. Shropshire Homes says:

“The exact machine to be used for the works is still to be agreed with specialist contractors. Access for the machine to complete the regrading may be required from Castle View Terrace. If it is necessary to access the works from Castle View Terrace then we would of course keep the size of the machine to the minimum sufficient to complete the re-grade work and if possible, use the existing gate. We would therefore propose a condition is attached to any permission requiring submission of a construction traffic management plan to confirm how plant and material deliveries will be managed for completion of the works including any adaptions needed for the existing gate and how this would be reinstated on completion of the works.”

I cannot see how Shropshire Homes can conduct the work without heavy machinery accessing the meadow on Castle View Terrace (the company owns the meadow). There will be some short term disruption on the road as equipment is delivered. This should be kept to a minimum.

My major concern is that the soil structure on this meadow, which will have developed over decades, if not centuries, will be destroyed by vehicle movements. Shropshire Homes is proposing protective matting to protect the soil and says there should be a planning condition to this effect. I would urge the company to use the smallest and lightest machinery possible is used to carry out the regrading of Zone 3. The historic brick wall, an unlisted heritage asset, should not be part demolished or damaged for the work. The existing gate must be used and that restriction will in itself limit the size and weight of equipment allowed onto the site.

I would like to thank Shropshire Homes for their cooperation in discussing the details of the stabilisation applications.

I remain opposed, as does all of Ludlow, to the company’s plans to build four homes on Castle View Terrace meadow. Shropshire Homes has filed an appeal against Shropshire Council’s refusal of that application. There is a long backlog of planning appeals at the planning inspectorate and we do not yet have a date for the appeal hearing.

More information at Save the Meadow.

My representation to planners on 21/03246/FUL (Zones 3 & 4)

I support the application in principle as the quarry face must be stabilised. However, the concerns of the tree officer and ecologist and residents must be addressed.

A tree planting scheme as recommended by the tree officer should be put in place. This should ensure that a viewpoint is maintained westwards from the meadow on Castle View Terrace for the long term.

The ecologist requests an ecological assessment which should be provided. The landscaping plan should be amended to include compensation for the loss of tree cover/hedgerow that has occurred already as part of the development supports the view of the tree officer and should part of a revision to this application.

A construction management plan is needed to ensure that there is minimal damage to Castle View Terrace meadow during works. It will be preferable to access the area that is proposed to be regraded from below. If this is not possible, the construction plan should specify the maximum size and weight of any machinery on the meadow. This should ensure that all equipment can access the site through the existing gate. Removal of any part of the brick wall, a non-designated heritage asset, is not acceptable. A comment to this effect from SC Conservation would be helpful.

Heavy equipment will degrade the soil structure of the meadow which has developed over a century or more. It should be protected from compaction and churning with appropriate covering. This should be included in the construction management plan.

Construction vehicles that must use Castle View Terrace for access should be kept to a minimum. It is popular walking route as well as used by residents. Construction vehicle movements should be supervised by a banksman along the length of Castle View Terrace.

If not possible to walk along the footpath on the meadow safely during any works, a formal, temporary, diversion should be put in place. I emphasise that this should be temporary and no permanent cessation or diversion should be put in place ahead of conclusion of the appeal against refusal of 20/02971/FUL.

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