I wrote about the plans to redevelop the One Stop building at 9 Tower Street at the weekend. This update gives more detail, including on the future of the post office.
No 9 Tower Street was purchased by Macham Investments Ltd in July 2015 for £490,000. Macham is a property developer based in the south of England. It has instructed local architect Trevor Hewitt to draw up plans for redevelopment of the site.
Mr Hewitt submitted draft designs to Shropshire Council earlier this year. The council gave ‘pre-application advice’ on the scheme. That advice recommended that he conduct a limited consultation with local residents about the scheme. That is underway now. The closest residents have been leafletted, a display is in the library and Mr Hewitt yesterday made presentations on the scheme to the town council and conservation committee.
Tower Street frontage
I said in the previous article that I have concerns about this scheme. I am troubled about its height and mass – it seems to be overdevelopment of the site. I am very worried about what will happen to the post office if planning permission is given.
Mr Hewitt has told me:
The proposals include the possible change of use of the ground floor to restaurant use. At this stage, a particular tenant has not been identified.
The new apartments will be offered for sale, with the obligatory affordable housing contribution and CIL payments being made to Shropshire Council.
On the future of the post office he said:
One question being asked is: what will happen to the Post Office? My answer to this is: The building changed owners last year and the new owners are looking to redevelop the site. One Stop lease the building, with the Post Office as their sub-tenant. A break cause in the lease allows for redevelopment. It is not known what plans One Stop or the Post Office have made to relocate in the event of the landlord opting to redevelop.
At yesterday’s meetings, Mr Hewitt said One Stop and the post office are aware of the plans for redevelopment of the site. He said the post office might stay on the site depending on who the new tenant is but it would have to move it out during building work.
Members of the committees expressed concern about the remains of the old gaol – the stone wall between One Stop and the Renaissance Centre. It is not a listed building but it is still a heritage asset. Some members supported the scheme, one saying: “Change is good. We are not a mausoleum of old buildings.” The general view, though, was that the scheme is too large for the site. At four storeys, it is too high. It lacks amenity space.
I agree with the general view. I think this scheme is far too big and we should be looking at a three storey building for this site that is no higher than the Co-op.
The future of Ludlow’s main post office is now uncertain. We cannot automatically assume that another retailer will host the service. If Macham Investments want to kick out One Stop and the Post Office, it appears the lease allows them to do so.
From a retail planning perspective, we have only limited options to oppose the scheme.
Tower Street lies in the primary shopping area of Ludlow. The primary shopping area is where a town’s retail outlets are concentrated. Shropshire’s local plan, SAMDev, insists that that any development maintains a continuous frontage of shops. This proposal maintains the continuous frontage. Under SAMDev, there is a presumption in favour of retail (A1) proposals in ground floor premises within Ludlow’s primary shopping area. However, SAMDev also allows non-retail uses such as restaurants (A3) in the primary shopping area.
My reading is that SAMDev is supportive of scheme like this.
It may be possible to reject planning permission for the new building if it meant the post office would be lost. Paragraph 70 of the National Planning Policy Framework states:
To deliver the social, recreational and cultural facilities and services the community needs, planning policies and decisions should: […]
Guard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities and services, particularly where this would reduce the community’s ability to meet its day-to-day needs;
This is more likely to be applicable in a village context with limited retail space, than in a town centre where there are likely to be several suitable locations for a post office.
I cannot support this scheme until the future of the post office is secured and the development is reduced in scale.
The plans have not been submitted to Shropshire Council. This is a preapplication consultation. Comments should be sent to Trevor Hewett, architect, by 11 June: email@example.com. There will be a further opportunity to comment once formal plans have been submitted to Shropshire Council.
. SAMDev Policy MD10a 2b i. “There is a presumption in favour of retail (A1) proposals in ground floor premises within Primary Shopping Areas.”
. SAMDev Policy MD10a 2b ii. “Additional main town centre uses will be acceptable in Primary Shopping Areas where it can be demonstrated the proposal would maintain an active and continuous frontage and would not result in an over concentration or undue dominance of non-retail uses.” Main town centre uses are: “Retail development (including warehouse clubs and factory outlet centres); leisure, entertainment facilities the more intensive sport and recreation uses (including cinemas, restaurants, drive-through restaurants, bars and pubs, night-clubs, casinos, health and fitness centres, indoor bowling centres, and bingo halls); offices; and arts, culture and tourism development (including theatres, museums, galleries and concert halls, hotels and conference facilities).”