In December 2020, Shropshire planners threw out an application for a terrace of six homes, none affordable, on the meadow on Castle View Terrace. The application departed so far from planning policy that it didn’t even go to the planning committee. It was rejected by planning officers who said the housing is not needed and it would destroy an important green space that is much used and loved by the community.
But Shropshire Homes is determined to go ahead and lodged an appeal earlier in the year. It has retained Berrys to fight the case on its behalf. The initial appeal papers were published yesterday. As might be expected, Berrys slam the council’s reasons for rejecting the application. It has set up a battle over interpretation of planning rules. A technical swordfight. And in several respects a game of words.
We are fighting for a vital green space. The local community has offered £130,000 to purchase the meadow. The best thing that Shropshire Homes can do is to stop fighting Ludlow and work with our town on building the housing we need in the right places. We need developers that work with our town. Not against it.
Shropshire Homes had originally asked for an appeal hearing, which would bring the council, developer and objectors together around a table to discuss the issues in front of the planning inspector. However, the planning inspectorate said has there is no requirement to question evidence at a hearing. The appeal will be determined after written representations – an exchange of documents – and a site visit. The inspector may visit the meadow unaccompanied or invite the developer, council planners and others to attend.
One of the main arguments that Berrys is putting forward is that Ludlow has failed to meet its housing commitments under the current and the next local plan. The company’s arguments are out of date and don’t stack up. We are building enough housing to meet planning commitments. Berrys says that six more homes will make little difference. They will make a lot of difference in this area of Ludlow that lacks open space.
Berrys argues on technical grounds that the meadow is not public open space and the near destruction of the meadow will create more public open space. As I said above, this is going to be a technical swordfight. Berrys even argues that the meadow, a commonplace description for the space, is not a meadow because it is a “sheep grazed permanent pasture field of semi-improved neutral grassland.”
I will write more on the technical aspects of this appeal shortly.
What frustrate me is that Shropshire Homes is pushing this forward against the wishes of the community. It builds quality homes and is building more than a hundred homes around Ludlow. But it seems that it has no interest in our town. Wherever it can grab a profit, it will grab it. We need developers that work with our town. Not against it.
All representations on this application made during the original application (20/02971/FUL) will be sent to the planning inspector. Anyone wishing to make additional representations should send them to email@example.com by 26 October 2020 quoting APP/L3245/W/21/3274886.
There are three procedures used for planning appeals:
- Planning inquiries are gladiatorial. Think of a court room with defence and prosecution layers, often barristers. They are expensive. Haworth, the developer of the former power station site at Ironbridge, suggested that if the scheme was turned down
- Hearings are fairly informal roundtable discussions. The inspector listens to the developer, planning officers, objectors and supporters and makes a decision at a later date.
- Written representations are the cheapest form of appeal. Everything is done by an exchange of papers, emails these days. There is no interactive debate.
The choice of procedure is down to the developer but the planning inspectorate can rule that the developer’s choice is not appropriate.