If approved – will the Rocks Green supermarket be a Lidl? Or a convenience store?

There have been last minute comments and contributions to the Rocks Green supermarket debate. Love Ludlow has submitted alternative plans for the site. Indigo Planning, acting for the developer Blackfriars, has filed a new statement making clear that retailer will not be Tesco or Aldi. These stores will not be allowed to move out to Rocks Green. Indigo is also hinting that the store will be the discounter Lidl. Lidl have told county planners that they are interested in a store on this site.

The South Planning Committee will decide whether to back the scheme or reject the plans this afternoon (Tuesday, 7 February; 14/05573/OUT).

Love Ludlow

In a letter to the planning committee chairman, Love Ludlow campaigners propose an alternative plan for the site. They suggest the site could be used for a smaller convenience store – not the large store planned. This would on the east side of the site alongside a much-needed petrol filling station. The rest of the site could accommodate up to 30 or so houses.

Love Ludlow also provides data on the impact the proposed scheme might have on independent traders in the town centre. A recent survey “shows that losing up to a tenth will threaten the survival of over a quarter of businesses (28%) and a loss of just a fifth of income will threaten the survival of nearly all” (93%).

Indigo Planning

There has been concern that the proposed store could be occupied by one of the existing retailers from Ludlow town centre – Tesco or Aldi. In its letter to council planners on Friday, Indigo are proposing that both stores are barred from occupying the Rocks Green store for five years after the planning permission is granted. That’s a watertight way of preventing a company like Tesco selling its existing store for housing and moving out of town.

Indigo states that the planned size of store is suitable for a Lidl. It provides evidence that Lidl is looking for a store in many locations, including Ludlow. Indigo stops short of confirming that Lidl is its client for the Rocks Green scheme but Lidl says it is interested.

Lidl

The Head of Property at Lidl has written to council planners:

“I am writing to confirm that Lidl do want a store in a Ludlow. [sic] If permission is granted this week, the site at Rocks Green would be suitable for us and the size of store is appropriate.”

“We are discussing terms with the developer. If there is a consent in place and we can reach agreement, we will develop a Lidl foodstore on the site creating new local job opportunities.”

“If Lidl UK can agree terms to progress this opportunity I am confident that a Lidl store opening at Rocks Green will not have a detrimental impact on small shops in the town centre.”

Comment

The publication of these important contributions a day before the planning committee sits shows just how much planning as become a tactical game. The planning committee will make its decision using its best judgement. It will know that regardless of whether it approves the development or dismisses it, its verdict will be controversial. Those promoting this scheme, and those opposing it, are using the last days and hours of the planning process to influence the outcome.

This will continue this afternoon when Love Ludlow and the developer will each be given a few minutes to make final comments before the committee.

This planning application has been in the system since December 2014. We first learnt about the proposals in June 2014, more than two-and-a-half years ago. It is time for it to be decided.

I’ll publish the decision on this blog this afternoon.

This article was updated on 7 February 2017 to take account of newly published documents regarding Lidl.

4 thoughts on “If approved – will the Rocks Green supermarket be a Lidl? Or a convenience store?

  1. Interesting letter regarding the legal covenant on the land, barring certain retailers.
    It appears this is just a suggestion..
    A few concerns.. who pays the costs of implementing this covenant, and who would pay to enforce it if it is challenged? Given Shropshire Councils reluctance to consider legal costs, it would suggest this is far from a done deal. Also, if it is SCs responsibility to implement it, even though examples are listed, it would set a precedent.
    Without a lot more information, therefore, this letter looks like a sweetener, without any substance.
    Five years, also, is no time.

  2. The retailer taking occupancy of the site surely won’t be Lidl? The proposed shop floor area is much too large for a Lidl.

    Contrast this site with the nearby Lidl stores in Shrewsbury, Hereford, Stourport and Newtown. All are much smaller than the floor area proposed here.

    Stocking smaller product ranges, occupying fewer shelves and shorter aisles, is a key feature of both Lidl and Aldi. The two discounters inhabit small to medium stores. In a 24,000 sqft building like this one, Lidl would rattle.

    In 2014, we played the ‘Name Game’ with Simon Potts’ team at the presentation held in Rockspring Community Centre, trying to guess the identify of the retailer.

    “Would the supermaket go ahead if the petrol station was refused?”

    “No”

    “Will the supermarket chain be running the petrol station?”

    “Yes”

    Unless we misunderstood, or Potts’ team was sowing confusion, those clues all but eliminate Lidl. Lidl doesn’t ‘do’ petrol.

    That’s not to say Lidl would be a bad choice for Ludlow. The discounter carries a quality and often unusual range of foodstuffs and comparison goods. Especially at Christmas, with its eclectic selection of German goods.

    This will be a very interesting planning meeting. Probably a highly charged one. Like the 2004 planning meeting when the go-ahead was given for the ALDI Store on Station Drive. Held by S.Shropshire D.C. in the soccer pavilion on Bromfield Road – those were the days of local decision-making, eh! – that too was a heated affair with jeering, shouting and disruptive slow-clapping by the angry forebears of “Love Ludlow”.

    At several points, the chair had to suspend the proceedings while protestors were told to calm down or leave.

    In the event, planners were not brow-beaten or bullied, and Aldi was approved to much relief and gratitude, still felt today.

    Though that didn’t stop the arguments which carried on, with demonstrators spewing out into the carpark below to continue their protests! Will we see similar scenes at Shirehall today? Much is the pity that the proceedings won’t be streamed on the internet for those of us who can’t attend.

    Let us hope that Shropshire planners have the conviction and strength of character today to grant this town what it so urgently needs – a new supermaket and petrol station!

  3. Lidl _ No thanks we already have Aldi a small town like this doesn’t need another discount supermarket. We don’t need another supermarket at all . Let us have one that sells non food items and clothes and that has a cafe..

Comments are closed.