Ludlow town council tonight voted against proposals for an out of town supermarket at Rocks Green.

Ludlow’s mayor Paul Draper opened the short debate. He said an out of town supermarket would be “disastrous for the town centre.” Pointing to the problems they had caused in other towns, he said: “Just look at Kidderminster and Leominster. And it won’t be long before Hereford follows them.”

Councillors Tim Gill and Jim Smithers agreed, describing the way that out of town supermarket’s had destroyed town centres across the country. Councillor Smithers said the supermarket would not just affect trade at Ludlow’s shops but also the markets.

Councillor Glen Ginger told the meeting: “I am 100% against this proposal.” He said that a lot of purchases in town centres are impulse buys, and impulse buys rely on footfall. “If you take away the footfall, you remove the impulse.” He pointed to the 200 car parking spaces at the proposed store, saying people would not come into Ludlow once parked there.

Councillor Ginger agreed with Councillor Di Lyle, who said that once there is one retail development beyond the bypass, more would follow. Councillor Lyle also noted the trend among the big four supermarket chains was towards convenience stores: “This proposal is going against the market trend.”

Earlier Robin Pote spoke for the Town Centre Residents Association. The association’s view was that the proposed supermarket would destroy the character of this small market town. He said trading margins are small and any further pressure could see the demise of many local traders.

Tish Dockerty spoke of behalf of the Chamber of Commerce and the Love Ludlow campaign:

There is large swell of people against this sizeable application which will shift people’s shopping patterns taking trade away from the town. We are the envy of many small towns around the country. We have something quite special here. It’s not just special shops, its butchers and greengrocers. And it’s not just the shops. It’s the supply chain. Do we need this supermarket? Our answer is ‘no’.

The one dissenting voice of the evening was that of Councillor Colin Sheward. He said:

I don’t actually feel the same. I’ve spoken to a lot of people. I have had nobody in my ward speaks against it. There are people looking forward to it. People say there is a need for a different sort of shopping in Ludlow.

At the conclusion of the discussion, five members of the committee voted to object to the scheme and Councillor Sheward abstained. The council’s objection will be forwarded to Shropshire Council, which will decide the application in due course.

Ludford parish council will be holding a special meeting to discuss the Rocks Green supermarket bid on 29 January, 7pm at the Ludlow Mascall Centre on Lower Galdeford.

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