After a forty minute discussion, plans for a convenience store and a 24-hour petrol station on Bromfield Road, Ludlow were put on hold yesterday afternoon by Shropshire Council’s South Planning Committee. The committee want more work to be done on pedestrian safety, especially for schoolchildren on their way to and from Ludlow School. The committee is also concerned about the site being open 24-hours a day and whether there is sufficient car parking. I think the committee made the right decision to defer.
Addressing the committee, the agent for the development rejected proposals from Ludlow Town Council for a mini-roundabout at the Bromfield Road and Coronation Avenue junction. He also rejected the town council’s request for a full roundabout to replace the slip roads to the A49. He said the proposals are “wholly disproportionate” and out of scale with the proposed development. But he did agree to fund a pedestrian crossing adjacent to the site. I asked where this crossing would be and he replied that would depend on where highways officers wanted it.
Before leaving the meeting, I told the committee the town desperately needs another petrol station.
This proposal is being built at the edge of the conservation area. It will be seen by visitors to the town with St Laurence’s and the castle above it. The scheme is a great deal better than the initial proposals but a lot will depend on the details of the finish of the buildings and signage.
I have previously made public my concerns about the petrol tanks. These were originally to be placed below ground. Now only the bottom metre is below ground, they are covered with an earth bund and they are basically bomb proof. I said I can never be happy with the petrol tanks being partly below ground because of the sensitive nature of the site. But I accept that they are the most robust and safe tanks that can be provided.
I told the committee the main issue for me is pedestrian safety. In the afternoon, 250 schoolchildren pass this site in less than ten minutes. My great concern here is that we are building a ‘tuck shop’ and children will flow across the roads towards it (see map).
I explained that we have got pedestrian crossings badly wrong in Ludlow before, citing the East Hamlet One Stop and Harry Tuffins (now the Co-op). We must not make these mistakes again. We need a secure crossing at the new store. On Bromfield Road, we need a lights controlled crossing but perhaps a zebra crossing would do. On Coronation Avenue, we need a pedestrian refuge.
We need to do this at the beginning. It’s our role as planners to create a safe environment. I said I was not coming here to object to this scheme as a whole or in principle, but I do think we need to get pedestrian safety right before it is approved.
In line with committee rules, I then left the room.
In the discussion that followed, Councillor David Turner said that commercially the store and filling station are on a good site. There will be a lot of people using them. People will drive to the site for food and bottles of wine as well as petrol. He suggested the numbers of traffic movements do not look consistent with the size of store, which is the largest you can build and still open all day on Sunday. He said he was seriously concerned about pedestrian safety and was worried that there was no pedestrian access except for the driveways. He said that signage needs to be carefully positioned and designed. The limited number of parking spaces was also an issue [22 parking spaces are planned].
Councillor Robert Tindall said he was worried about the safety of schoolchildren. The pavements were congested at school leaving time. He said the committee and planners need more time to iron out concerns. He suggested a deferral, in particular to consider pedestrian crossings.
Councillor Celia Motley said the pavements are often thick with schoolchildren who are not very traffic conscious. She asked whether there was sufficient funding for a full lights crossing.
Shropshire Council’s highways offer replied the contribution being offered by the developer would not be enough for a lights controlled crossing. It might be sufficient for a zebra crossing.
Continuing, Councillor Motley welcomed another petrol station in Ludlow but: “We have got to protect the children.” She expressed concerned about 24-hour working. She said she doesn’t think it is necessary. It will be intrusive and lighting will be a problem. The proposal is on the main road into a historic town, so we need to be particularly careful about signage. She supported referral of the application.
The highways officer said there would need to be an assessment for suitability of a zebra crossing. She suggested that peak flows of traffic to petrol station might not be associated with morning peak of children or evening peak.
Councillor John Hurst-Knight told the committee he had no worries about the petrol tanks and or safety. The school should organise safety. He said he did not support deferral and proposed the committee approved the application.
Councillor Madge Shineton asked about contamination from the former abattoir. The planning officer said that a planning condition required investigation of this before work commences. He advised the committee that there was sufficient information to make a decision at this meeting.
After saying that the applicant should pay the full cost of lights crossing, Councillor Shineton seconded Councillor Hurst-Knight.
Councillor Tindall clarified his proposal for deferment. The committee wanted assurance that the site will have a sufficiently safe crossing and the right location; it wanted more information on the sufficiency of car parking; and it wanted opening hours to be reviewed.
The motion that the application be approved was rejected.
The motion for a deferral was carried.
I am expecting that this proposal will come back to the South Planning Committee next month. I am also expecting that it will be approved. I am very much hoping that the application will be improved and that we have in place clear plans for the safety of pedestrians crossing Bromfield Road and Coronation Avenue.
. I can’t vote on planning applications in Ludlow North. That’s barred by Shropshire Council’s constitution. It is a convention in these circumstances for the ward member to leave the room.