THE approval of a plan to allow a balcony to be built in a historic part of Ludlow town centre has been condemned as an ‘undemocratic outrage.’

It has also led to a call for the planning system to be overhauled.

The third storey roof terrace overlooking St Laurence’s Church and the Reader’s House has been approved by Shropshire Council planning officers although the councillor who represents the area had demanded that it go to committee.

“ It is an appalling decision,” said Andy Boddington, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow North.

The town council objected and Ludlow’s conservation committee objected as did the town’s Civic Society.

“ I asked for the decision to be made by the planning committee,” Mr Boddington said.

“This decision, which in my opinion ignores court rulings about protecting the setting of historic buildings, was made after a secretive meeting by planning officers and the chair and vice chair of the southern planning committee.

“That meeting decided to delegate the decision to officers who immediately approved the scheme.

“Shropshire Council’s planning system must be overhauled to give greater respect to local representations and the historic environment.”

However, the opposition to the plans were not universal with four late expressions of support for the scheme.

They all make similar arguments that outdoor space has been invaluable during lockdown and that there is an elevated balcony on the Church Inn.

Planning officers decided there would be no impact on the setting of the Grade I-listed Readers House and St Laurence’s Church.

However, cllr Boddington believes that this was incorrect and causes concern for the future.

“There are no documents on the planning portal showing the views of the terrace from outside the Reader’s House or from Tower Street,” he added.

“Why weren’t these requested by officers? Planners don’t seem to have given any consideration to the view from Tower Street at all.

“This is not just another example of Shirehall trampling all over Ludlow.

“It sets an important precedent that diminishes the importance of the setting of heritage assets in our town and historic towns across the county.

“It treats Ludlow like a rubbish town centre, not the historic gem it is.”