This article brings an update on the latest objections to the Rocks Green supermarket scheme, including concerns about the impact on the town centre and whether local roads will be safe.
The supermarket application, which was submitted a year and a half ago, has now received 206 objections and 18 expressions of support (14/05573/OUT).
“One really has to question what, if anything, do they know about trading in Ludlow?” That’s the question asked of the developers by L.N. Greenhall Holdings in the latest objection to proposal. Greenhall is based on Corve Street and lets several premises in Ludlow town centre. The company has traded for nearly 60 years and it brings a lot of local knowledge to its comments on this application. It says if the supermarket is built, it will lead to “the death of a very special town centre as a viable trading place.”
The Greenhall objection
Referring to the plans twenty-five years ago to build an out of town Tesco, Greenhall recalls that South Shropshire District Council commissioned a report from consultancy Roger Tym in 1991. Today said: “The vitality and viability of the existing centre as a whole would be damaged irreparably, without any foreseeable prospect of longer term recovery.” You can hear the sigh in Greenhall’s voice when it says: “With sadness… history repeats itself.”
Ultimately the Tesco store was built in Corve Street, so that, although it, and the subsequent Aldi store, unquestionably have a considerable impact on town centre trade, the fact that they are only 10 minutes’ walk from the town centre means that it is easy and routine to make linked visits to both retail areas, though of course the shopping focus has moved eastwards and the viability of the town centre shops has been considerably diminished by the arrival of these supermarkets.
Developer Blackfriars has retained Indigo Planning to support the planning application. Greenhall says:
Indigo are of the opinion that such is the attractiveness of Ludlow town centre that few people are likely to abandon it for Rocks Green, but many shoppers do a large part of their shop at Tesco/Aldi and combine this with the market, a baker, butcher, chemist or other town centre shop, whereas if they went to Rocks Green either from Ludlow, or the surrounding catchment area, visiting the town centre would obviously entail a separate car journey.
Ludlow may often be bustling with a mixture of visitors and locals, but we and other businesses know that its viability is marginal and appearances can be deceptive.
Greenhall goes on to criticise several aspects of Indigo’s retail analysis, describing it as “fantastical reckoning” It concludes:
If the council give approval to this unnecessary and destructive proposal, they will be responsible for the death of a very special town centre as a viable trading place.
Highways objections and support
Ludford parish council also renewed its objection to the scheme. It said the scheme will have a negative impact on town centre trade. The council is particularly concerned about pedestrian safety:
Pedestrians going to and from Rocks Green Estate (including accompanied and unaccompanied children) will be required to cross both the access to the service yard of the supermarket, and also the access to the supermarket car park itself, an undesirable increase in risk to their safety. The use of a mini-roundabout rather than a controlled pedestrian crossing is not satisfactory.
At the junction of Dun Cow Road and the A4117,the impact of an increase of traffic using Dun Cow Road would cause a number of problems for residents of Rocks Green . The pedestrian crossing over the A4117 is of poor quality. It frequently breaks down and even when fully operational takes a long time to change to red (to allow pedestrians to cross). the result of this is that some pedestrians (especially, but not exclusively, children) tend to cross before the lights have changed, at great danger to themselves. The increase in traffic attempting to leave Dun Cow Road onto the A4117 will increase the danger to pedestrians.
Highways England has withdrawn its holding objection to the scheme. However, the agency was not informed that 200 homes were to be built behind the Nelson Inn. These will increase traffic volumes on the A49 Rocks Green roundabout. Shropshire Council’s highways team has recommended to the supermarket applicant that “this formally raised with Highways England to establish if they continue to raise no objection.”
Shropshire council’s highways team says it has no objections to the supermarket itself. In its representation on the proposed development, it states: “Principally this development proposal has the greatest effect on the traffic movement along the strategic highway (A49)” and that is the responsibility of Highways England.” It considers the matter of pedestrian safety at the A49 and recognises that the road “is seen as a barrier” for pedestrians and cyclists wishing to go to and from Rocks Green. The team asks whether a footbridge could be provided. (That’s not currently on offer from the supermarket developers.) It says: “This development should consider and deliver further pedestrian and cycle provisions to encourage sustainable travel between the existing residential areas and the site.” However, it warns that “improving conditions at the roundabout junction on A49, and especially additional and/or safer crossing of the trunk road, could affect the capacity of the junction, increasing delays and driver frustration.”
I had to read that sentence a few times before I believed it was real. Surely pedestrian safety is paramount? If keeping people safe means traffic delays and frustrated motorists, so be it. That frustration might encourage greater efforts to ensure a footbridge is built across the A49 as soon as possible.