THE LOVE LUDLOW CAMPAIGN

Love Ludlow Campaign from Shropshire Media Network on Vimeo.

It is sad but true that our attempt to get the slim (5 votes to 4) approval decision made by South Shropshire Planning Committee in February to be 'called in' has failed. We asked our MP Phillip Dunne to act on our behalf. He notified us that he had written to the Secretary of State and Communities, Sajid Javid including our Briefing Note (see below) which we supplied to him, written by David Appleton on behalf of the Love Ludlow campaign on the 28th February. On the 2nd March we were informed of the following:

'The Government is committed to give more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues, and believes planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible.

Following the members resolution to approve the above application in February 2016 and the consultation with the Secretary of State, who has confirmed that they do not wish to call in the decision and that it can be made locally, the application can now be approved.'

We clearly feel that the planning process led by officers at Shropshire Council was prejudiced in their steer of this planning application, with little acknowledgement for the sentiment of local traders and so many local people that took the time to express their objections to such an unsuitable development for Ludlow. We question the viability of local councils making such decisions when so little consideration of what local people actually want is taken into account. For your information we are publishing our Briefing Note which outlines many of the concerns that we felt were good enough reasons for this application to be reconsidered.

BRIEFING NOTE

Shropshire Council Planning Application Reference 14/05573 OUT

Proposed supermarket at Dun Cow farm, Rocks Green, Ludlow

Planning Policy Background

National Guidance

1.1       The starting point for assessing proposed new retail development is National Guidance set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) 2012. Paragraph 2.4 states that: (in the context of maintain the vitality of town centres)

‘Local Authorities should apply a sequential test to planning applications for main town centre uses that are not in an existing centre and are not in accordance with an up to date Local Plan. They should require applications for main town centre uses to be located in town centres, then in edge of centre locations and only if suitable sites are not available should out of centre sites be considered’

1.2       More detailed advice is given in Planning Policy Statement 6 (PPS 6). The statement advises that in respect of new planning applications for out of centre sites, planning authorities should require applicants to demonstrate the following:

a) The need for the development

b) That it is of an appropriate scale

c) There are no other town centre sites available for development

d) That there will be no unacceptable impacts on existing centres

e) That locations are accessible for a range of transport modes

The advice states that normally such development should satisfy all these criteria. 

1.3       Paragraph 2.5 expands on accessibility and states that;

‘Developments should be accessible by a choice of means of access, including public transport, walking, cycling and the car.

Local Planning Policy

2.1       The relevant Local Planning policy  (which has to conform with National policy) is  contained within the Shropshire SAM DEV and Core Strategy which was adopted in November 2011 and lasts until 2026. Policy CS 15 is relevant, it states that:

‘The Market towns of Oswestry, Market Drayton, Whitchurch, Ludlow and Bridgnorth will act as principal centres to serve local needs and the wider service and employment needs of communities within their respective spatial zones. Appropriate convenience and comparison retail, office and other town centre uses will be permitted to support these roles’

2.2       Paragraph 6.27 of the Core Strategy states that ‘The policy clearly priorities the ‘Town Centres first’ approach to development. 

Policy analysis

3.1       Measured against both national and local planning policy the proposed Rocks Green development is lacking. Taking national policy first the development site is clearly an out of town location, and with the closure of Budgens there is now an alternative site available in the town centre.

  1. There is no need for the development- the town is well served by two existing supermarkets and other convenience stores. The closure of Budgens demonstrates the lack of need.
  2. The scale of development proposed is such that it is too large for the Rocks Green site to avoid environmental conflict. Although the developers have identified a potential end user with a smaller footprint there is no firm commitment to this.
  3. The impact on the town centre has not been properly assessed. The developers consider that the town centre is ‘healthy’. There are 12 voids and 11 charity shops however, approximately 9% of all units including banks, estate agents and fast food shops. In addition there has been the recent closure of a pub. The charity shops, although maintaining street frontage pay no rates, pay peppercorn rents and employ no staff. Although fulfilling a useful social function their financial contribution to the town is limited. In combination, the void and financially inactive units are far greater than the figure that the developers have identified. In addition, however, local retailers rely on ‘linked trips’ where shoppers park up using two hours free parking visit the supermarkets and then undertake speciality shopping. There would be no incentive for visitors to the Rocks Green site to make a further trip into the town centre, filtering out potential customers to undertake speciality shopping. The viability of town centre retailers is further compromised by the impending increase in business rates.
  4. In accessibility terms the development doesn’t measure up except for cars. The A 49 is a formidable barrier to pedestrian and cycle access form the town itself and there is no efficient bus service. By contrast the town centre is well served by all of those modes in addition to close proximity to a railway station.

 

3.2       In terms of local policy this reflects National Guidance in terms of directing development into town centres. Not only is the proposed development outside the town centre it is also outside the SAMDEV boundary as can be seen from the attached plan.

Site specific Issue  

4.1       Planning Policy Context

Shropshire Council Core Strategy Policy CS6 sets out Sustainable Design and Development principles for new development. Among other issues set out, the policy seeks to ensure that all development: (fourth bullet point)

            ‘Protects, restores, conserves and enhances the natural, built and historic environment and is appropriate in scale, density, pattern and design taking into account local context and character, and those features which contribute to local character having regard to national and local design guidance, landscape character assessments and ecological strategies where appropriate’.

4.2       The explanation to the policy fleshes out detail, including at 4.83 the need to conserve trees and woodlands, and at paragraph 4.86 that ‘appropriate landscaping and tree planting will form an integral part of any proposal to ensure that the development is better assimilated into its surroundings’.

4.3       Landscape Proposals for the site

            The landscape design proposals for the site are set out within the Design and Access Statement submitted by the applicant (paragraph 3.07) and also on a landscape concept plan. Ref; 1085 LC -04. Within the text the approach ‘has been considered so as to set the scheme within the landscape character of the area and to provide a combination of ecological and decorative planting scheme suitable for the destination development’. Mention is also made of negotiations with the Shropshire Housing Trust to provide off site planting on land in their ownership, semi mature tree planting within the site is also proposed, and it is suggested that the proposed landscaping ‘will enhance the appearance of the development’, while there would be no negative impact upon the landscaping to the A 49 and the A 4117. The text also suggests that ‘hard landscaping will be used to differentiate between different parts of the site with tarmac surfacing within the car park and textured materials representing pedestrian access routes.’

4.4       Assessment of the proposals

            The landscape treatment of the site is clearly an afterthought despite the assertion made in the DAS, and is completely inadequate. The submitted landscape plan is described on the portal as being a landscape assessment, however this is not the case. Such an assessment would describe the landscape character of both the site and its surroundings, referring to Local and Regional landscape character assessments to establish a baseline, and identifying the potential visual impacts by walking local footpath routes driving the highway network and in particular assessing the impact on local residents which would live in close proximity to the scheme.

4.5       The inadequacy of the proposals are set out in the consultation response of Shropshire Councils landscape and arboriculture specialist Mr Purce dated 22nd June 2015. He states at his paragraph 1.1:

            ‘At present the site is well integrated into the landscape with mature trees along the A 49 and the B 4117 serving as an effective screen to the site from views in, and as a filter to the site and neighbouring development off Duncow Road for light, noise and air pollution from this busy junction. The surrounding area to the west is heavily developed but effectively screened by woodland with a core area that makes the screening robust and effective. This new development proposes to remove the existing effective tree cover and significantly change the nature and character of the area.’ His comments are echoed in the Council’s conservation officer’s consultation response (Mr Ben Williscroft dated 13/10/2015) where he also recommends the retention of boundary vegetation to avoid the urbanisation of the locality. 

4.6       Impact on neighbouring residential properties

The potential impact on the existing residents to the North West of the site has not been adequately considered. In response to criticism of an initial scheme which had an obvious impact in term of potential noise and lighting the applicants submitted a further proposal which would have resulted in a blank gable immediately adjacent to the A49

4.7       The landscape impact of the scheme cannot be mitigated. Clearly the scheme is driven by the need to maximise the developed area of the site, limiting on- site landscape and increasing the prominence of the site as for commercial reasons it is unlikely that the promoters would wish to retain boundary vegetation. The site is grossly overdeveloped and will urbanise one of the main entry points into the town, particularly in views from the A 49 and the A 4117. In summary the scheme in landscape terms is contrary to Core Strategy Policy CS6 and Management of Development sub-policy 5. 

4.8       Obviously the proposals are at this stage only outline in nature and the final detail would be submitted at the reserved matters stage. The constraints of the site are such, however, that to overcome environmental concerns ( the planners agreed at the committee meeting that they could not support the scheme in its current format), a supermarket of much smaller scale could only be accommodated. Presumably an approach to Liddle was made on that basis, but of course there is no guarantee that this will happen. If Liddle were interested

the application would surely be badged under their name and after two and a half years they are the only operator that has expressed an interest in the site. What is obvious is that the site is not large enough to contain a store which would offer non -food items such as children’s clothing, which was a major benefit put forward by the promoters of the site during the application process.

 David Appleton for ‘Love Ludlow’

18/02/2017

 

The group currently comprises of members that represent the following organisations; Ludlow Chamber of Commerce, Ludlow Town Council, Ludlow Civic Society, Ludlow Town Centre Residents Association, South Shropshire Green Party, Ludlow Constituency Conservative Association, Ludlow Labour, Ludlow Conservation Committee, Ludlow 21, Ludlow Food Festival and the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

The Love Ludlow campaign would like to thank the Ludlow Food Festival for its kind support.

Keep our high street thriving

Ludlow has a thriving high street, much admired by many other market towns around the country, help us to keep it that way.

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The town supports well over 100 independent businesses in both retail and service sectors. Buy local and keep them alive.

Stop out of town development

Out of town retail development has been the death knell of many towns and cities across the country. Lets not kill our town.