Philip Dunne MP and developer file opposing last minute comments on Rocks Green supermarket

This morning’s post brought two letters.

The first is from Philip Dunne MP and is addressed to Clive Wright, the chief executive of Shropshire Council and copied to South Planning Committee members. It sets our Mr Dunne’s objections to the proposal for a supermarket at Rocks Green. In the letter, Philip says the development brings with it the very real possibility of undermining the appeal of Ludlow town centre and could threaten livelihoods.

The second envelope came from SP Broadway, lobbyists for the supermarket promoter, Blackfriars. The letter says the developer has carefully listened to the concerns of committee members in revising the scheme. The impact on the town centre will be lower and Shropshire Council’s planning policy officer comments that this level “is unlikely to result in a significantly adverse impact on Ludlow’s town centre.”

Philip Dunne letter

Dear Clive

Dun Cow Farm, Rocks Green, Ludlow (14/05573/OUT)

I write to provide my view ahead of the next South Planning Committee on 7th February on the new application for a food store supermarket development at Rocks Green, Ludlow (14/05573/OUT). I would be grateful if you would pass my comments on for consideration by the Committee.

I have serious concerns about the impact of this proposed supermarket on an edge of town site beyond the A49 at Ludlow.

Ludlow is a draw for many tourists, who come to see a thriving market town with a wide array of independent shops. All of these visits create jobs and growth in Ludlow’s economy. Permitting this development brings with it the very real possibility of undermining that appeal, and threatening livelihoods. Any potential short term boost in local jobs from a new supermarket would all too quickly undermine the jobs of others in town.

We know there is pressure on trade in Ludlow. Recent news of the decision to close one of the three existing supermarkets, Budgens in the town centre, is indicative of the close competition for customers. The adjacent convenience store One Stop, which hosts the main Post Office in the town, has announced it is to close, further demonstrating that Ludlow cannot sustain its existing convenience food offer. HSBC’s decision to remove their branch from the town centre will have a knock on effect on footfall elsewhere. Sucking trade out of the town centre would not only further undermine local trade, ensuring money is taken out of the local economy.

I have sympathy with those who want a supermarket retail offer with cheap clothing for children and adults. But this application at Rocks Green is not large enough to enable the provision of a clothing offer. Added to this, the application is speculative, and we have no idea who the tenant will be. So we cannot know whether this space would enhance Ludlow’s retail offer. But we do know, from past experience, of the very detrimental effect an edge of town supermarket can have on a market town, as happened just along the A49 in Leominster.

I firmly believe that permitting this development would set a precedent that would undermine town centre trade, reduce local employment, and add nothing to the local retail offer. I would urge those on the planning committee to think very carefully when determining this application, and not to sacrifice Ludlow’s long term future for a short term fix.

Yours sincerely

Philip Dunne
MP for Ludlow

Blackfriars letter

Dear Cllr Boddington,

Shropshire Council South Planning Committee: 7 February 2017
Application no 14/05573/OUT – Dun Cow Farm, Rocks Green, Ludlow

I am writing to you regarding Blackfriars Property Group’s proposals for a new foodstore at Rocks Green, Ludlow. SP Broadway has been assisting Blackfriars Property Group with engagement.

At the Committee meeting in October we carefully listened to the concerns of the members and where possible have addressed these in this revised submission. Changes include:

  • A smaller store: The store has been reduced in size by approximately 8,000sqft (gross). Consequently the impact on shops in the heart of Ludlow, excluding Tesco, is expected to be between 2.3% and 3.1 %. If Tesco is included the impact on the town rises to between 9% and 9.6%. This includes the loss of linked trips from Tesco. Cllr Boddington had some queries regarding the impact tables and so we have produced an up-dated version, which I enclose. This has been agreed with your officers. Your planning policy officer comments that this level “is unlikely to result in a significantly adverse impact on Ludlow’s town centre”.
  • Store re-located: It was suggested that the southern half of the site was more appropriate for development than the northern half. We have listened and moved the store to the south west, away from the housing and closer to the A49 and roundabout. The service yard has also been moved and is now screened, by landscaping on the A49 and the store, reducing the impact on nearby housing.
  • Pedestrian safety measures: Servicing vehicles will be prohibited from making deliveries to the store between 8 & 9am and 3 & 4pm, during school drop-off and pick up times.
  • Highways: An addendum to the original transport assessment has been produced, predicting the likely highway conditions up to 2026, taking into account vehicles from the nearby housing allocation site for 215 units. (LUD017). This shows that the roads will operate within capacity, bearing in mind the combined impact of the proposed store and petrol station and the allocated houses. As your officer reports “this would not be considered to be unacceptable traffic impact”. We have also suggested de-acceleration measures such as rumble strips with lines to slow traffic approaching the roundabout.

I hope you will agree that these changes represent significant improvements. At the October meeting Cllr Boddington stated that the town was split 50/50 on our proposal. The revised proposals benefit from support from residents. It is striking to note that, of 110 residents who have expressed a view on the amended application to Shropshire Council, 61 (55%) say that they support the plans. Many of these supporters live at Rocks Green.

This support flows from the benefits the proposals will bring to the town. These include more retail choice for residents – Ludlow currently only has two supermarkets, Tesco and Aldi, with a town-centre Budgens providing a more limited range of goods. Currently Tesco are in the process of purchasing the Booker Group which included Budgens, this is likely to further reduce consumer choice and cement Tesco’s dominance of food shopping in the town. A new foodstore at Rocks Green would cater for the full range of weekly convenience shopping needs, improving the choice available to local residents and clawing back shoppers who currently travel elsewhere for more choice.

The new foodstore would also employ approximately 180 people, offering a mix of full and flexible part time positions. Consequently more people will have greater spending power, to enable them to shop in Ludlow town centre. Jobs would also be created in the construction of the store.

I hope that, like the majority of Ludlow residents who have expressed a view on the revised proposals, you feel able to support our application and its delivery of:

  • More choice for current and future residents, helping to clawback trade for Ludlow
  • New job opportunities
  • Over £2.6 million a year to boost Ludlow’s economy through new jobs
  • Increased business rates revenue for your Council
  • A new petrol filling station for the A49

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any further queries. With best wishes.

Yours sincerely,
David McFarlane

davidspbroadway.com

Notes

Philip Dunne letter (PDF)

SP Broadway letter (PDF)

One thought on “Philip Dunne MP and developer file opposing last minute comments on Rocks Green supermarket

  1. Could it not be used for an indoor market, farmers market? As far as bringing footfall into the centre tourists like local goods Local people could use it to sell their home made stuff, ie an artist could sell his paintings. Local crafts could be sold their even clothes produced by local people. Basically a community store that could also be a meeting place with small coffee shop. Just a few thoughts to consider.

Comments are closed.