Spar calls for independent review of Rocks Green supermarket proposal

The operators of the SPAR convenience store on Castle Street, AF Blakemore & Son, have objected to plans for a supermarket at Rocks Green on the outskirts of Ludlow (14/05573/OUT). Writing on behalf of AF Blakemore, Julian Sutton from Signet Planning says Shropshire Council should employ an independent consultant to scrutinise the proposal:

For a development of this scale we would normally expect a local planning authority to instruct a planning consultant to undertake an independent review of the proposal and place this document in the public domain. We have not seen any comments from officers on the supporting information submitted in respect of the impact of the scheme on centres nearby or any observations from a planning consultant instructed by the council despite the application being submitted six months ago.

To my knowledge, the council has not appointed a consultant.

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Mr Sutton also raised questions about whether an adequate sequential test has been conducted. The test requires an applicant to consider potential town centre sites for the supermarket first, edge of centre sites second and only if no suitable sites are available, examine out of town sites. He says that the proposed out of town at Rocks Green is not accessible except by car:

The application site is in an out of town location where the current walk-in [is] limited, the potential for linked trips is negligible and opportunities to access the proposed development by [non-motorised] modes of transport are limited.

He continues:

In terms of access to the application site on foot, the Travel Plan submitted with the planning application refers to residential areas and facilities within a 2 kilometre walk of the site and concludes that “As such it can be stated that the site is accessible on foot”. A 4 kilometre round trip on foot is not a realistic walking distance to a standalone supermarket, particularly for the elderly, wheelchair users, people pushing prams or carrying heavy shopping.

Noting that buses do not run in the evenings or on Sundays, Julian Sutton says: “We disagree with the Travel Plan’s assertion that… ‘the site is accessible by bus’.”

Concurring with the critiques of the supermarket scheme from the Co-op, the Environmental Agency and Shropshire Council’s conservation team, Mr Sutton concludes:

The application proposal represents inappropriate development of the site. The application is in conflict with a number of planning principles and specific national and local policies, in particular relating to the retail sequential test, impact on town centres, heritage impact, groundwater contamination and accessibility. I therefore respectfully request that this submitted application be refused planning permission.

Blackfriars Developments has yet to respond to any of the criticisms of the scheme, which include potential impact on the town centre, landscape, heritage assets and pollution of water supplies. Shropshire Council’s highways team has yet to publicly comment.

There have been 204 objections to the plans and 18 supporting comments. There is still time to submit comments in support of the scheme or objecting to it.