In May 2015, the South Planning Committee approved a new store and petrol station on the corner of Bromfield Road and Coronation Avenue.
I had previously objected to this application but changed my mind after the developer went the extra mile to make the development work on this sensitive site. I asked the planning committee to approve the application rather than risk losing on appeal.
Now the developer, Mead House Pension Scheme, has applied to build the petrol storage tanks below ground.
I feel betrayed.
This application had been in the planning system for more than fifteen months (14/00563/FUL). It had taken a good while to get right. The scale of the building was reduced, a safe pedestrian was agreed and the petrol tanks, which had previously been below ground, had been lifted out of the water table.
Once these objectives had been achieved, there was no reason to turn the application down – indeed, we could not have done under national planning rules. The petrol tanks and safe pedestrian crossing were crucial to the approval of the scheme. I urged the South Planning Committee to approve the scheme, giving Ludlow a much needed second petrol station.
This is a sensitive site because it is close to the floodplain and has a high water table. Any leakage of fuel could be catastrophic for the ecology of the Corve and Teme. To reduce the risk to an absolute minimum, Mead House moved the petrol tanks above ground. The Convault tanks would be wrapped in an earth bund. They would be collision and pretty much bomb proof.
Now Mead House wants to put the petrol tanks below ground into the water table. This will allow the company to reinstate four car parking spaces removed to accommodate the above ground tanks.
The consultation on the revised plans began on 25 October. Yet the company has provided no details of the proposed underground tanks on Shropshire Council’s planning portal (16/04716/VAR). I understand that talks are underway between Mead House and the Environmental Agency on the new plans. But we are expected to comment on the plans without any detailed information. Mead House is sneaking these plans in without contacting local residents and councillors and without providing adequate information on what they intend.
It is wrong that Shropshire Council has launched a consultation before it can publish sufficient information for people to respond to the application. I cannot see how people can form a reasoned judgement without any details of the scheme.
I don’t think I could ever bring myself to accept below ground petrol tanks on this sensitive site. The plans, such that they are, should be withdrawn.
If they are not withdrawn, the application for underground tanks should go to the South Planning Committee. I don’t think that the committee would have considered approving this application if the petrol storage tanks had been underground.