I despair as flawed data gives first glimpse of revised Rocks Green supermarket proposals

Council planners have published a tantalising first glimpse of the revised supermarket proposal for Dun Cow Road at Rocks Green on the outskirts of Ludlow. No plans have been released yet. New technical data suggests the revised proposal will be 17% smaller than the scheme that was considered by the South Planning Committee in October. Unfortunately, this data is flawed and the scheme will be 14% smaller. That is not the only error in the new data.

This scheme, should it go ahead, will turnover nearly a quarter of a billion pounds over a decade. But the company behind it seems not to be able to get its sums right. I despair.

Two spreadsheets have been published on Shropshire Council’s planning portal.[1] Both analyse the impact the revised supermarket scheme will have on existing retail provision in and around Ludlow.

The headline is that the new scheme will be 17% smaller than the previous plans. This is wrong. It will be 14% smaller.[2]

updated_table_9_clippedFull data

The developer, Blackfriars, says that the revised scheme will take £3.13 million less from local retailers than the original scheme. Perhaps to ensure that we remain confused, the company says that this is a 17% reduction in the draw from local trade whereas it is 14%.

In a second spreadsheet, Blackfriars gives estimates for the impact of the revised scheme on the town centre. It presents three scenarios on the level of loss of linked trips from the existing supermarkets. The lowest loss will be 20% and the highest 59%. This will lead to a reduction in in trade in the town centre of between 9.0% and 9.6%. With a 9.0% reduction in trade, Blackfriars says the town centre turnover will be £72.97 million [sic]. With a 9.6% reduction, Blackfriars says town centre turnover will be £72.97 million [sic]. Spot the difference? There is no difference because Blackfriars has published inaccurate data.

revised_table_aa_clippedFull data

All this suggests that the impact analysis has been hurried and careless. It has been thrown together without basic error checking.

Okay, I have a head for numbers. As should anyone preparing a supermarket proposal. I spotted these errors in seconds. This is a scheme that will, on the Blackfriars estimate, generate £22.17 million a year. Yet the company doesn’t seem to able to do school level maths.

I am profoundly disappointed that such flawed analysis could be generated and made public. This scheme, for better or for worse, will have a significant influence on the future of our town.

If Blackfriars wants to develop on the edge of our town, the very least the company could do is to get its numbers right.



[2]. The revised scheme will have a sales floorspace that is 324 sq m smaller than the original proposal of 2,275 sq m. This is a reduction of 14.2%. To get the claimed 17% reduction, the developer has apparently taken 324 sq m as the numerator and 1,951 sq m as the denominator (result = 16.6%). 1,951 sq m is the retail sales floorspace of the revised plans, not the original scheme.