First it was to be Lidl. Then Marks and Spencer. Now it has been announced that the supermarket at Rocks Green will be Sainsbury’s with an Argos. If the plans are approved, work on this site could begin this year and the store will open in the second half on 2021.
The plans are an improvement on those previously submitted. The scheme is nearly one third smaller that that approved by the South Planning Committee in February 2017. On an initial reading of the documents, my main concern is the removal of rural greenery on the north east side of the Rocks Green roundabout. This has always been a soft green gateway to Ludlow. The proposed design would be much harsher and urban. Very much in your face.
Viv Parry and I meet Blackfriars Developments and Sainsbury’s tomorrow to discuss details of the plans. We’ll want to know about the retail mix. Existing planning permission is for at least 75% convenience goods (daily shopping). The plans show an Argos on the site.
I have no doubt this scheme will be approved as the scheme already has outline planning permission.
Plans for the site over the last six years have been produced by Indigo Planning. (The history of the planning application.) Indigo is now part of consultancy WSP, which you may be familiar with as WSP does highways design and planning for Shropshire Council. The latest plans were published yesterday (20/00840/REM).
The Sainsbury’s store will be built of natural materials including wood panelling and glazing. The building’s height has been reduced by 2.9 metres and there will be increased daylight within the store to reduce internal lighting. A pitched roof is also a new feature.
The reduced size of the store allows for a better layout. But there is still a feeling it is crammed into the site with insufficient screening.
More space will be provided for trees around the edge of the site. Shropshire Council’s tree officer had objected to previous plans saying many of the proposed trees were in too cramped a space and were unlikely to thrive. The revised plans go some way towards addressing this. Each tree will generally have a three metre space and will be five metres tall at planting. But the tree officer’s proposal of a double line of trees around the site has been rejected. Native tree species will be used.
The screening from the A4117 and A49 is limited. WSP argues:
“Sainsbury’s or any other commercial business will require an element of road presence to take advantage of passing traffic… The reality is that the principle of a foodstore has been agreed on the site, and customers will expect to see a foodstore on the site. There is no point in trying to hide it behind dense tree cover.”
A totem advertising Sainsbury’s will face the roundabout.
An avenue of oaks will be planted along Dun Cow Road. A row of trees will be planted to screen the north face of the store from Rocks Green Crescent. This is welcome as the previous proposals had inadequate screening.
A wildlife meadow will be established to the north west of the store alongside the A49. We need more detail on this but it looks to be small. About 225 square metres.
The retail area has been reduced by 29% and WSP says:
“We are hopeful that this addresses concerns raised by Ludlow Town Council and Ludford Parish Council that the store will have a negative impact on Ludlow. We do not think that there is any concern that the store will reduce tourism expenditure in the town.”
This comment misses the point. We never thought the store would have a significant impact on the town centre tourist economy. Our arguments have always been that it would reduce footfall and reduce income for independent retailers and Ludlow Market.
The supermarket will have 169 parking places. The petrol filling station will host three pumps and a jet wash. There will be four EV charging points in the main parking area.