I think it useful to make state my current views on this scheme, which have changed as the proposal itself has changed (14/00563/FUL).
Two days after I wrote a post saying “the petrol station is the right idea in a perilous place”, a letter from the Environment Agency was published withdrawing its objections. It said that it would prefer the tanks to be set above ground but “being pragmatic we are not minded to object to the proposed development based on the likely risk to groundwater, the proposed tank design and bearing in mind the site context.”
The Convault petrol tank storage system proposed for this development is about as good as you can get in terms of blast protection and has good leakage detection. The tanks are still partly below ground though and that must always be a worry. But if they were totally above ground, they would be a hideous monstrosity on this important gateway to Ludlow.
After the Environment Agency letter, a planning objection to the tanks can no longer be sustained. Firstly, I haven’t a hope of persuading Shropshire Council and the South Planning Committee to throw the application out on grounds the petrol tanks are a danger. Secondly, Shropshire Council would most likely end up paying the costs of an appeal.
I can never be happy with petrol tanks in this location and I know that others are unhappy to. But I do accept that the developers have gone a long way to making them as secure as you can get. That’s because we and the Environment Agency have stood our ground to get the best solution we can.
We have moved through three stages in this application. The first was getting a decent low profile design. The second was getting the best petrol tanks we can get. The final action is to get safe crossings on Bromfield Road and Coronation Avenue. We are just about there with that after a generous contribution from the developer.
Whether we like the application or not, it can no longer be rejected on material planning grounds. That was the view of the South Planning Committee on 10 March, when it put the plans on hold to negotiate improvements.
I have changed my position on this application. My opinion has evolved as the scheme has evolved. Although I will always uneasy about storing petrol on the banks of the Corve I now think the scheme should go ahead.
I think the petrol station should be open 24 hours, and so do most respondents to my poll. If the petrol station is open, the store might as well be – but I don’t favour selling alcohol between midnight and 7am.
Pedestrian safety must be resolved but I know think we can do that.
I’d be surprised if the South Planning Committee doesn’t approve this scheme at its 22 May meeting. That means that we might have a second petrol station in Ludlow later next year.
We might get a Harry Tuffins back too, though the Delve family who are behind this scheme have said they have not yet decided whether this site will be a Tuffins. I’d like Tuffins to return. Since the Midshires Co-op too over the Foldgate Road Tuffins, prices have gone up and most local food has been swept from the shelves. Tuffins would give the Coops some competition.
I’ll report back on the planning committee’s decision at the end of May.