Plans submitted to create a new bar area in the Feathers Hotel and repaint the shopfront

Crest Hotels have submitted plans to convert the reception area of the Feather Hotel into a bar. This is a sensitive application for listed building consent which will be scrutinised in detail by Shropshire Council conservation officers and the Ludlow Conservation Area Advisory Committee. A related application seeks advertising consent to refurbish the fascia of the former bar area, which is now a tearoom.

The Feathers is a major part of Ludlow’s historic landscape. We can no more do without it than we could do without St Laurence’s Church, the Buttercross, Bodenhams and Ludlow Castle. These are the anchor attractions that bring people into town along with the market, butchers, bakers and so many other traders.

These plans need studying in detail. But they look good on a first reading. It is great to see the Feathers coming back into use and getting the level of investment it deserves.

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Former toilet on New Road, Ludlow makes bid to become a coffee shop

The recent redevelopment of the toilet on New Road has turned an eyesore into a useful building. When planning permission was given, its use was restricted to a shop or sandwich bar. Now the owners also want permission for it to be used as a café or restaurant. There is likely to be a mixed reaction to this. Some will welcome a new outlet. Others will be concerned about parking and damage to existing businesses.

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Pundits predict a “toxic death” for our town centres in 2019. Is that the future for Ludlow?

It’s a New Year. More than any point in the calendar it is a time for reflection and predictions of what lies ahead. Retail matters hugely in Ludlow, not just for our daily shop but to bring in the visitors that give our town centre its buzz.

Around the country, town centres are losing their buzz as trade is dragged out of town by vast retail parks or hoovered up by the growing retail power of the internet. Ministers and councils have spent decades overseeing the decline of town centres. They are now panicking and desperate to find ways of resuscitating failing high streets. But they are no longer interested in retail. They want shops replaced by homes.

Is this the future for Ludlow town centre? I don’t think so. We are happy being Ludlow and should remain that way.

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Councillors reject charges for A-Boards and call for local enforcement of pavement hazards

Shropshire Council has been flirting with plans to licence every A-Board in the county. Those ideas didn’t get through the Place Overview Committee yesterday. Everyone agreed that a licencing and charging scheme was the wrong approach. Instead, the committee asked officers to work with local councillors and communities to draw up clearer guidance on where A-Boards can be placed to ensure safety of pavement users, including those with limited mobility and visual impairment.

We agreed it would more effective for responsibility for “policing” of A-Boards should be devolved from Shropshire Council to town councils.

This is good news. Shropshire Council should not overregulate and we should manage the day-to-day business of the town ourselves.

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Ludlow is a town of one hundred A-Boards – should we make retailers pay for using the pavement like Liverpool?

A-Boards can be a hazard to the blind and partially sighted. They can be a problem for families with child buggies. But they are also essential for local businesses, many of which are on side alleys or not immediately in sight.

For the best part of a decade, we have endured a debate between “Love A-Boards” and “Hate A-Boards” in Ludlow. That debate could be moving towards an end after a Shropshire Council meeting next Friday.

I walked around the town centre yesterday and counted 98 A-Boards – 74 were on the public highway and 24 on private land. The debate is now on whether this is right for our town. The urgency of the debate is driven by Shropshire Council’s wish to regulate all A-Boards in the county and to charge retailers for the privilege of putting the signs on the highway. What the council is proposing comes across as overregulation.

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