Last night’s Annual Town Meeting was fairly well attended with more than 20 residents. The usual question and answer session followed presentations by councillors. Jennifer Gill asked about progress on repairing the town walls behind St Laurence’s Church, which fell nine years ago.
Mayor Robin Pote gave the reply. He said the work could cost £3 million, money that many need to be borrowed. This might be borrowed from the Public Works Loans Board. My back of envelope calculation is that would lead to repayments of around £150,000 a year if the loan period was the normal 30 years, roughly a third of the council’s budget.
Councillor Pote said:
“The wall is owned by St Laurence Parochial Parish Church (PCC). Shropshire Council took the emergency response lead at the time of the collapse. A legal debate between Shropshire Council, the Town Council and PCC commenced in 2015, and Ludlow Town Council agreed to lead those looking for a way of funding the necessary repairs to the collapsed section of the Ludlow Town Wall, next to the Garden of Rest.
“It was recognised that this would be a large project, involving commissioning and agreeing a full specification for the repair works contract, working out an accurate estimate of the likely cost of those works and getting all of the necessary permissions. Ludlow Town Council looked to Shropshire Council and St Laurence’s Parochial Church Council to do whatever they can in support of the project.
“Early in 2016, the first meeting between LTC and the PCC liaison group had taken place, and project stages were agreed in outline; and discussions with statutory bodies were begun.
“In 2017, the scoping work was complete and tenders for the preliminary works were undertaken. The cost for the preliminary works to create a detailed report and recommendations for the final stage repair works was £38,550, and LTC explored sources of funding from grant giving bodies and other sources.
“An application for borrowing was made to the Secretary of State’s office and approved in 2019. A Faculty, and Scheduled Monument consent applications were made prior to the invasive coring works, and the specification for these works was informed by the non-invasive works just prior.
“The works were delayed by the pandemic in 2020. The detailed report and recommendations for the final stage repair works was presented to the town council and their legal advisors took receipt of it in early 2022. The report is being considered by a barrister.
“It is estimated that the cost of the repair works will exceed three million pounds. Works of this scale required a comprehensive and robust process, and the next stages will be:
- Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) review of the report
- Preparation of repair tender documents by Ludlow Town Council’s (LTC) consultant
- Tender and select supplier by LTC
- LTC public consultation for funding from Public Works Loan Board (PWLB); and seeking funding from other agencies
- DAC formal review of chosen supplier repair solution prior to faculty petition
- LTC application to Secretary of State for borrowing approval and PWLB loan application
- Diocesan Public notice for repair prior to faculty grant
- Statutory consultation as required by DAC (for example with Historic England)
- Petition for repair to Chancellor for consideration and granting
- Repair works on site.”