Marks and Spencer have announced that they are bringing their food format store to the outskirts of Ludlow. The plans are for the M&S Food store to be opposite the Eco Park on a site allocated for employment use (though there is no significant planning barrier to the site being used for retail).
We only have the barest outlines of the proposals at this stage. M&S will begin a public consultation with drop in sessions for the public at the beginning of December.
There will be a lot of issues to consider here. Another out of town store in a town that has thrived on its distinctive, largely independent retail offer in the historic town centre. The site ticks the boxes for road and bus access. There are suggestions from what we know so far that the designers have looked at the landscape screening aspects, as it will be visible for miles to the south, east and north east.
In 2019, we heard whispers that was planning to build a food store here. But that scheme for the site never saw the light of day. It is now Sainsbury’s.
The M&S scheme is not yet in the planning system at which point we will see more details. The public consultations are on Thursday 1 December 12pm to 4pm and Friday 2December 10.30am to 4pm at the Ludlow Assembly Rooms. Comments at this stage should be sent to email@example.com.
There are major issues for our town with this application. Lots of us love shopping at M&S, me included. But a new high market store will inevitably reduce footfall in the town centre. Our independent traders in the town centre mostly came through the pandemic well. But the effect of the current financial pressures on personal finances are reducing spending power and we are seeing more store closures that we have seen before.
I am not taking a view on this proposal. We don’t have the application yet. But there is a lot for us to think about.