This morning I wrote about the latest application for a supermarket at Rocks Green. This is for a Sainsbury’s and an Argos.
This post summarises the recent planning history of this site from 2014 to 2020. It has been six long years but now look likes it can be resolved within a few months. Work could start by the end of the year with a view to opening in the second half of 2021.
It is my 45th blog post on the Rocks Green supermarket scheme. The full sequence, for those with a couple of hours to spare, is here.
2014/2015. We first heard of this scheme in March 2014, more than six years ago. I published the draft plans in July. The layout was very different from the Sainsbury’s scheme now before us. The plans were submitted in December. It was estimated by the developer that Ludlow town centre would lose a quarter of its trade because of the supermarket opening. The town council voted against the scheme. Midshires Co-op objected, along with Spar and Greenhall Holdings. Shropshire Council’s tree officer joined them and said the scheme should be scaled down. The Environment Agency objected saying fuel tanks for the petrol filling station should be above ground. By the end of 2015, I was pressing for a decision one way or the other.
2016/2017. In July 2016, the Co-op renewed its objection, saying the town centre would lose 30% of its trade. In October, the South Planning Committee considered the planning application. After a two and a half hour meeting, which was often heated, the committee wanted to refuse the application. But council officers refused to allow committee members to vote down the scheme and the decision was deferred. In December, revised plans were published. In January 2017, Viv Parry held a public meeting to discuss the plans. The next month, I published an extensive analysis of how we shop in Ludlow. It showed that our town centre works for food but not for comparison goods like clothing. In February, Love Ludlow submitted alternative plans for the site. On 7 February, the South Planning Committee approved the scheme by five votes to four. The decision was subject consideration by the secretary of state, but he declined to intervene and the scheme gained outline planning permission. At this point is was expected that the retailer would be Lidl.
2018/2019. Discussions continued on the final plans. Viv Parry and I met Blackfriars Developments and its architect to discuss the evolving detailed plans. At this point the retailer was expected to be Marks and Spencer. We weren’t allowed to reveal this but the detailed plans, submitted with hours to spare in March 2019, had the typical design of an M&S foodstore. Once again, the supermarket had shifted position on the site.
2020. In April, the 2019 scheme met objections over trees and landscaping. There have also been repeated technical objections from Highways England. We learnt that M&S had withdrawn and another retailer was about to sign up for that scheme. A few days ago, we learnt the retailer will be Sainsbury’s. (Sainsbury’s only scored 9% in my January 2015 poll well behind the 45% vote for Asda.) Yet again the layout has changed.