Why we need a new 1,800-home suburb in Ludlow
Creating an 1,800-home “garden” suburb on the edge of Ludlow would leave a legacy for Shropshire to be proud of, a councillor says.
Andy Boddington says a Ludford Garden project must be built by 2065 for the town to thrive.
Shropshire Council is currently reviewing its local plan and consulting on development sites up to 2035.
But Councillor Boddington says the town needs to look further ahead.
He has published a concept for a Ludford Garden suburb to the east of the A49 that would include housing, transport and employment land and retail, as well as footbridges crossing the trunk road.
He said: “This is a 50-year vision. People might be shocked by the number of homes I am suggesting. But take yourself back 50 years to 1970. Ludlow was a lot smaller and it has expanded incoherently since. This plan is fewer than 40 new homes a year.
“We can just bury our heads in the sand and hope housing development doesn’t happen. But we can no more hold back housing than you can stop the tide – Ludlow will expand.
“Shropshire Council’s local plan has ambitious growth targets for the county but these pose dangers for a town like Ludlow which has seen decades of unplanned, incoherent growth. We can’t continue adding one limb at time. We must begin planning for a Ludford Garden Suburb and ensure that we leave a legacy that generations can be proud of.”
Councillor Boddington said the Government wants 300,000 new homes built every year.
That’s a good ambition given the long-term failure of governments, councils and developers to build enough homes.
The National Audit Office also warns that current planning rules often lead to a free-for-all approach to development. That leads to many people opposing development. And it doesn’t lead to housing that works for communities.
“There has been a resurgence in interest in garden cities," Councillor Boddington said.
"The concept has been expanded to garden towns, garden villages and garden suburbs.
“We have spent too long building housing as though we are heads down in a village hall beetle drive. We stick on one limb at a time. The consequences are that people live on mediocre estate roads. They too often must drive because no one thought to sort out the bus routes and footpaths.
“We need to look at the broader picture.
“We cannot preserve Ludlow in aspic. We must always fight for our historic town centre. Without that, Ludlow will not be Ludlow. But we must also plan for a vibrant future for our town.
"People need places to live and work, to be born and grow old.”
The councillor added: “We live in dangerous times when it comes to planning the future of our cities and towns. On the one hand, the government talks up housebuilding. It wants 300,000 new homes built every year. But current planning rules often lead to a free-for-all approach to development.
“We must do planning properly. In the old days, and I am going back 40 years, people talked of town and county planning. Nearly everyone believed that planning should be spatial, zoned and organised. Planners and architects talked of ‘place shaping’ – designing towns and cities to be places for living rather than for commercial profit.
“But the hopes of ever better planning faded when the planning system was brought under the control of John Prescott’s Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. We witnessed a build-at-almost-all-costs approach.
“Place shaping and strategic planning was by this point dead.”