At last we have the detailed application for the controversial application for a supermarket at Rocks Green. It has been nearly six years since the controversial scheme was first proposed. The proposal from Blackfriars Property Group is for be 21,000 sq ft of retail space dedicated to food, along with a petrol filling station with three pumps.
The retailer is not named in the application. But no one is expecting it to be a discount retailer such as Lidl.
Ludlow has been spilt on this application. Many think it will damage independent traders in the town centre irreparably. Others welcome a wider retail mix.
This is the first of a sequence of new articles on this scheme.
Three years ago yesterday, outline planning permission was granted for a large out of town supermarket and an accompanying petrol filling station on a 1.5 hectare (3.6 acre) site at Rocks Green off the A49 and A4117 (14/05573/OUT). That permission was due to expire yesterday. However, in the nick of time, the Blackfriars Property Group submitted a detailed planning permission, known as reserved matters (20/00840/REM). On giving outline permission, the Southern Planning Committee reserved the right to make a final decision on this scheme rather than allowing officers to decide under their delegated powers.
I am not expecting the application to be rejected but that will be a matter for the planning committee. I have decided that I will not vote on the scheme at committee as I have been involved in details of its design even though I still oppose it in principle.
The scheme, which has been revised a few times over the last three years, has been designed to meet the needs of a specific food retailer. However, that retailer is not named in the application (there is no requirement to do so). It is widely reported that the retailer is Marks and Spencer. When we councillors last spoke to Blackfriars, the retailer had not been signed up, so no comment from me on this at this stage. The outline planning permission restricts the area of the store that can be used for comparison goods to 25%.
The 3,156 sq m (34,000 sq ft) store will be single storey. The retail sales area will be 1,951 sq m (21,000 sq ft), smaller than the 2,322 sq m proposed in the outline application.
The developer says a foodstore of this size will create between 125 and 150 part time and full-time jobs for local people.
The service area has been moved from the back of the store to the east side. This is a response to concerns from us councillors that deliveries would disturb residents. The delivery area will be bounded by a 2.5 metre high masonry wall with a 2.4m high timber acoustic fence along the top. The landscaping plans shows a “proposed secondary vehicular entrance apron) towards Rocks Green Crescent. That would not be suitable as it would increase the noise residents hear from delivery trucks and the developer accepts that. I had understood that a bus bay would be created here. We will clarify the details of this.
The car park will have a hard surface provide 202 spaces, including seven disabled parking spaces, eight parent and child spaces, two electric vehicle charging bays. There will twelve cycle spaces with six Sheffield cycle hoops.
The petrol filling station will have three pumps (so six cars at a time). The fuel tanks will be above ground behind close board fencing.
Residents of Rocks Green can expect the usual disturbance and noise during construction. Work is work scheduled for Duncow Road, including a mini-roundabout to provide access to the food store and the petrol filling station. That will lead to disruption, including to the 722 bus service. We will need to plan for that if the scheme goes ahead.
There is a lot to study in this application. Details of signage will be very important, including illumination. There is also a question on whether the site could include more renewable energy generation. Waste heat from refrigeration will heat the retail area. No solar panels are shown. Will there be ground source heat pumps?
The application is open for public comment. Notionally the consultation ends on 23 March. But Shropshire Council will accept comments after this date. I am not expecting this application to go to the Southern Planning Committee before June but it could just make the May meeting. Blackfriars and the retailer are aiming to open before Christmas 2021.
This is first look at this major scheme. I will write more articles in the coming weeks.