Co-op renews objection to Rocks Green supermarket – says town centre could lose 30% of trade

Midshires Co-operative has added to its objection to the supermarket proposed by Blackfriars at Dun Cow (14/05573/OUT).

A submission by planning consultant Richard Holmes criticises the developer’s assessment of the impact the supermarket would have on trade in the town centre. Holmes says the impact will be higher, perhaps as high as a 30% loss of retail business. He also criticises the way the developer has calculated the damage the proposed store would have on town centre retailers, saying the calculations are at times “speculative”. Holmes wants Shropshire Council to publish the professional advice it has been given on the proposal.

Some of the argument concerns technical planning rules, including whether Tesco is in the town centre or on the edge of the centre. Whether it is or not matters for assessing the impact of the new store. I am sure that Holmes is right is saying that Tesco is within the town centre under the national planning rules set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. He says:

The Tesco store is an important part of the town centre and the impact on that store is an impact on the town centre.

Holmes criticises parts of the impact assessment as “speculative” and says the methodology as “entirely misconceived”. He says:

There is no doubt that the Tesco is an important part of the town centre and an important attractor of people to it and that the substantial loss of trade and customers [to the new supermarket] would significantly affect the vitality and viability of the town centre.

Blackfriars’ consultants, Indigo Planning, say the new supermarket would divert 20% of the town centre’s convenience goods – day-to-day shopping – to the proposed store. Holmes says this is likely to be between 25% and 30%. He also says the total trade diversion, including comparison goods like clothing and electrical items, will be “significantly higher” than the 10% stated by Indigo. Even at 10%, the “trade diversion would be significantly adverse” on the town centre.

There would be additional losses to the town centre as a result of linked trips, where people shop at Tesco then go on to shop elsewhere. Holmes says that the figures for this provided on behalf of Blackfriars are “wholly speculative”.

Homes concludes by asking planning officers to recommend that the application should be rejected by the South Planning Committee. He also wants advice given to Shropshire Council by an unnamed planning consultancy to be published on the council’s planning portal.

This is a strong condemnation of the supermarket proposal but I suspect this application still has a way to run before it gets to planning committee.

Previous posts on this planning application.