Former cat rescue shop on Old Street, Ludlow, could be converted into a café with flats above

Former cat rescue shop on Old Street, Ludlow, could be converted into a café with flats above

Woodspace Partners Ltd has applied to use the ground floor of 5 Old Street as a café. The space above will be converted into four flats.

The former Cat Protection League charity shop has been vacant since 2018 when it was put up for sale. It is an elegant building in a prominent position on the edge of the town centre. It has a long garden which stretches 34 metres to the historic town wall. Although some details about tree removal need to be examined, this a good proposal that will bring a prominent empty retail unit back into use. It will continue the trend, nationwide as well as in Ludlow, of town centres becoming places to experience, linger over coffee or a meal, but purchase fewer goods. It will also provide more flats in the town centre. We need small dwellings like those proposed.

This is a well prepared application with a lot of attention to detail (20/02531/FUL). As the building is Grade II listed, a parallel application for listed building consent has been submitted (20/02532/LBC).

The application is for A3 use (restaurants, snack bars and cafes). It indicates that the café will be open from 9.00am to 17.30pm Monday to Saturday and 10.00am to 4.00pm on Sundays. It is expected that three people will be employed full time and four part time.

Four flats are proposed: a two bedroom flat, a single bedroom flat and two bedsits. They will be accessed through the existing side alley.

Quite a lot of work is needed on this building, even though it was renovated in 2007. The rear of the building has historically suffered a partial collapse and has been patched up over the years, sometimes unsympathetically. Work is also needed upstairs for the conversion to flats. The proposed work is sympathetic to the historic building and has been designed in consultation with Shropshire Council conservation officers. The east elevation of the renovated building will be timber clad.

Current view of rear elevation (above) and future (below)

Queens House was listed at Grade II in 1974. It was the home of Thomas Hackluit before becoming a was a pub in the 16th century, initially known as the Red Lion before becoming the Seven Stars and ultimately the Falcon. It again became a residence, though in the First World War it accommodated a branch of the Red Cross. There is more information on the building’s history in the design and access statement accompanying the application.

No changes to the frontage are proposed other than repainting and signwriting.

Some large trees in the garden will be removed due to their size, the risk they pose to the neighbouring buildings and the ancient Town Wall, and the overshadowing they cause. Two Laburnum trees are toxic to humans and animals and have no place in an eating area. Cherry, copper beech and silver birch trees will also be felled. They are stated to have outgrown their locations and to overshadow the garden. The Copper Beech is reported as being a danger to the town wall through root damage and potentially falling during a storm.

It is suggested that these maturing trees will be replaced by species such as sumac, whitebeam, or “certain acers”.

I haven’t seen the trees and I am not a tree expert. But we need to know more about the details of why the copper beech and silver beech trees are to be removed. We will know more after the town council’s tree warden and Shropshire Council’s tree team have commented. All replacement trees should be native species.

We are sensitive to tree removal in the Ludlow Conservation Area. Our town centre has become less leafy over the last decade as trees have been felled with or without replacement. The greenness of the conservation area has been eroded by a multitude of small decisions. In most instances, there are valid and often important reasons for tree removal, including outgrowing cramped locations. But tree removal and replacement is cumulatively changing the green character of the heart of Ludlow.

But, as I said at the start of this article, this is good application that will bring back into use an empty retail unit that in parts is in a bad state of repair. I expect to be supporting it.

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