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Spar calls for independent review of Rocks Green supermarket proposal

The operators of the SPAR convenience store on Castle Street, AF Blakemore & Son, have objected to plans for a supermarket at Rocks Green on the outskirts of Ludlow (14/05573/OUT). Writing on behalf of AF Blakemore, Julian Sutton from Signet Planning says Shropshire Council should employ an independent consultant to scrutinise the proposal:

For a development of this scale we would normally expect a local planning authority to instruct a planning consultant to undertake an independent review of the proposal and place this document in the public domain. We have not seen any comments from officers on the supporting information submitted in respect of the impact of the scheme on centres nearby or any observations from a planning consultant instructed by the council despite the application being submitted six months ago.

To my knowledge, the council has not appointed a consultant.

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Freedom of information and ip&e – FoI is not ‘bizarre’ as council leader claims

Shropshire Council is busy transferring many of its staff and services to its wholly owned company, ip&e. This company still must respond to freedom of information requests, in almost the same way that Shropshire Council does even if those requests are ‘bizarre’ in the eyes of council leader Keith Barrow.

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Rocks Green supermarket should be scaled down to protect landscape says Shropshire Council tree officer

Shropshire Council’s tree and woodland protection officer, Dougald Purce, has criticised the proposal for a new supermarket at Rocks Green because the design puts profit before landscape protection. In a comment on the application last week, he said:

In order to maximise the commercial potential of the site the buildings and parking have taken priority over landscape, a less adventurous proposal would be better able to provide a sustainable integrated development at this key gateway to Ludlow. Continue reading

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Introducing the In and Out of Ludlow forum to improve transport and access to our town

We have set up a new forum to look at transport and access issues in and around Ludlow. It has already set in place reviews of the East Hamlet One Stop junction and wayfaring signs around the town centre. Simon Jones, Shropshire’s lead councillor on transport, is looking at whether £1 parking on Sunday can be introduced to towns like Ludlow. In coming months, we’ll be working our way through a long list of issues concentrating on those of greatest concern to residents and traders. Continue reading

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Bid for solar farm outside Ludlow delayed yet again after Historic England renews its objection

Earlier this week, the second set of revised plans for proposed the Henley Hall solar farm were submitted by Kronos Solar. The changed layout was intended to assuage concerns expressed by Historic England and Shropshire Council’s heritage team about the impact of the scheme on the setting of Henley Hall and its gardens.

Historic England is still not satisfied that the changes have addressed its objections. In a letter to Shropshire Council’s planners yesterday, it said:

Whilst the proposed revision to the scheme will remove the area of the development directly from the registered park and the garden boundary is an improvement, having considered the response to our previous advice from the applicant’s heritage consultation, we wish to maintain our view with regard to the proposals. Continue reading

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Bromfield solar farm approved after zero objections – is that unique?

I can’t recall a case across England where this has occurred before. The Bromfield solar farm has been approved without a single protest or objection. We have recently seen lively and well organised protests against solar farms at Whitton, Henley Hall, Neen Sollars, Acton Scott and Sheriffhales. Although the latter two had a good measure of local support, they also faced strong opposition.

It was different with the Bromfield solar farm. Save South Shropshire Countryside, which was established to oppose solar farms in the countryside, said it had no objection. The Campaign to Protect Rural England and others supported the scheme. There was not a single objection.

When this 5MW, 9.2 hectare scheme was first proposed in May 2014, I asked a number of questions. The promoter of the scheme listened carefully, made modifications and produced a sensible planning application that I could fully back. Continue reading

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Teckal iceberg could sink Shropshire Council’s private company ip&e

There are two arguments that Keith Barrow, leader of Shropshire Council puts forward to justify transferring ever more public services to ip&e, the council’s private company.

The first is that it will cut costs to the council.

The second is that it will make a profit for the council.

Neither stacks up in my view.

Cuts to costs could happen and have happened within the existing council structure. At present, staff in ip&e have the same terms and conditions as those in Shropshire Council. That could change, particularly on pensions. But if ip&e wants to attract highly qualified people in a tightening labour market, it may well have to pay above public sector rates. It will need healthy bank balances to fund that.

Dreams of making a profit are such a high risk that council finance officers won’t take account of them in the council’s future budget projections. I can’t see how this company can make enough money under Teckal rules to justify the risks involved.

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