M&Co on the Market Square is to close in a month’s time. The adjacent building, the former George Inn which became PizzaExpress, has planning permission for a £2.2 million scheme by Oakman Inns and Restaurants to return the building to a public house (21/04064/FUL). The approved scheme included part of the back of house area of No 12 (M&Co) but rumours on social media that the pub will be expanded into the retail area are not correct. The M&Co area will remain in retail use.
I feel very sorry for the staff at M&Co, some of whom have worked there for more than a decade. The closure is also a big blow for Ludlow as it is one of the few shops selling affordable clothes, especially for children.
Walsingham Planning, which designed the new pub on the site of PizzaExpress, told me there is no intention to extend it into the remaining retail unit. A smaller retail unit will be marketed for retail once the separation works are completed for the pub.
Ludlow’s retail landscape is changing. It has always been changing. There are new independent shops. One is hoping to open on the Bull Ring to sell kitchenware and other goods this weekend. Another is preparing to open on High Street. And there are shops owned by chains. The latest, Greggs on King Street, will open shortly.
A town like ours needs a balance of chains and local independent traders. There is always the ever present danger that the chains will swamp the town but there is little evidence of that so far in Ludlow.
We do though have several empty shops. Hopefully, they will be occupied soon. It is the landlords’ interests to fill vacant shops as they must pay full business rates after a property has been empty for three months.
Meanwhile, I wish the staff at M&Co well in the search for new employment.