In its objection to the proposed Rocks Green supermarket, the Midcounties Co-op (which trades at Harry Tuffins) says that there is no case for a new store (14/05573/OUT). If the 25,000 sq ft store was built, it would create more damage to trading and tourism in Ludlow than the supermarket’s proponents are suggesting. Only 40 full time equivalent new jobs will be created, the Co-op claims, not around 90 as suggested by the developer’s consultants, Indigo Planning.
Noting that Ludlow already has sufficient retail capacity to capture 86% of convenience expenditure in the local area, the Co-op says there is no capacity for another store, let alone one of this size:
There is no requirement for a new supermarket in this location either on a quantative or qualitative basis as there is insufficient expenditure for a store of this size. Consequently, if the proposal went ahead it is inevitable that it would draw trade from the town centre to the detriment of its vitality and viability.
The Co-op criticises the scheme for being led by property developers not by a named a retailer. It criticises the way the sequential test was conducted – this is a required test that insists that developers look for town centre first, edge of centre sites second and out of town sites only as a last resort. It says that the retail turnover of the proposed scheme has been underestimated and there is potential for the store to increase its sale area unless this is specifically restricted by planning permission. Not enough allowance has been made for the impact of growth of internet shopping or the proposed Tesco at Tenbury. The amount of money visitors to Ludlow currently spend in Aldi and Tesco has been overestimated. The Co-op says Indigo Planning also has incorrectly classified Tesco as out of centre (a point I have made previously).
Indigo Planning claims that Tesco and Aldi are over-trading, taking more money than expected for stores of their size and type, and this indicates there is capacity for a new store. The Co-op disagrees and says the over-trading has been over-estimated:
It is clear that the Tesco and Aldi are trading well but shops cannot trade at twice the company average without obvious signs, including crowded aisles, the frequent restocking of shelves or items not available on the shelves, frequent and excessive queuing at checkouts, and difficulty in finding parking spaces. These problems are not frequently experienced in Ludlow outside peak shopping times.
The Co-op says that Indigo Planning should publish the detailed results of the consumer survey which the developers say supports the case for a new store. It says there is no information on when and where the small on-street survey of 100 people was conducted. Results would be different on market and non-market days and in different weathers. The Co-op complains the study area used for the survey of 1,000 consumers was too large and again it wants the full details published.
Noting that 55% of Tesco shoppers and 52% of Aldi shoppers go on to shop elsewhere in the town centre (linked trips), the Co-op says:
It is inevitable that if a new store was permitted on the eastern side of the A49 there would be little or no pedestrian linkage and this would affect footfall in the town centre.
On the question of how much trade the town would lose of the store were built, the Co-op says Indigo have hugely underestimated the impact by failing to include Tesco in the town centre:
The convenience goods town centre turnover is estimated by Indigo as being £11.31m in 2019, but this mistakenly treats the Tesco as out-of-centre. Including the Tesco store it is estimated at £33.79m and the impact would be 23.6%. This compares with the 6% estimated by Indigo.
The Co-op also complains Indigo Planning have underestimated how much trade in comparison goods would be diverted from the town centre.
Indigo Planning suggests an overall gain of 93 full time equivalent jobs if the scheme were built. The Co-op disagrees and says the net new employment is more likely to be around 40 rather than around 90 FTE.
The Co-op concludes the town centre will be damaged by the proposal:
The town centre has a strong mix of independent traders whose trade would be diminished by a further supermarket of the size proposed. This would harm the character of the town and potentially affect its attraction as a centre for tourism.
It says that Shropshire Council “should not rely on the impact assessment”, which is “fundamentally flawed in treating the Tesco store as out of centre.” The proposed store is likely to draw over 30% of town centre convenience trade and an unquantifiable proportion of the comparison trade. The Co-op’s objection concludes:
It is quite clear… that the impact on the town centre would be significantly adverse and planning permission should therefore be refused in accordance with paragraph 27 of the NPPF and policy CS15 of the Core Strategy. The proposal would have some employment benefits, but these would not be sufficient to outweigh the harm to the town centre.
Councillor Vivienne Parry has also submitted an objection to the proposal. She says the scheme is too large for the site. The entrance to the location is dangerous and queuing traffic will hinder access to the Rocks Green housing. The scheme will block the fine view that residents currently enjoy and will create light pollution. Councillor Parry suggests that proposed store on Coronation Avenue would be a better location for a petrol filling station.