Avenbury Properties Ltd has submitted an application for a building destined to be a M&S Food Hall on the other side of the A49 (22/05682/FUL).

Proposed development [is] to provide a 2016.8sqm retail unit, with a net trading area of 1,398sqm, with access road from Sheet Road, 180 space car park to include 7 disabled parking bays, 7 parent and child parking bays, 8 electric vehicle charging bays, cycle rack service yard, and landscaping.

The store will create 70 full and part time jobs.

With a sales area of around 1,400sqm, the store will be two-thirds the size of Sainsbury’s, a little smaller than Tesco, and bigger than Aldi and the former Budgens. It is expected to have an annual turnover of c. £14 million. Around 80% of its sales will come from attracting customers from stores in and around Ludlow.

The consultation runs until 30 January though comments will be accepted until the Southern Planning Committee makes a decision a few months hence.

The applicant’s consultants rejected using the former Budgens site because “it has live planning application” for apartments with retail units below and because the site is too small (permission was granted for the Budgens site last October).

The store will “not have a substantial non-food offer”. Financial data suggests that just under 10% of the store will be for comparison goods (see my jargon buster).

The application states the “building appearance to be of high quality set within a well landscaped environment”. Officers don’t think so and in their pre-application advice they called for a design that respects the prominent location on a gateway to Ludlow.

However, the building is a white box with no architectural merits whatsoever. It is much starker building than Sainsbury’s. Like Sainsbury’s it lacks adequate screening with trees. There are 3 metre high signs on three sides of the building, along with a larger illuminated sign and a totem facing the A49.

The store will be clearly visible from Caynham Camp and other locations though the developers are playing the impact on landscape and heritage down.

There must be a radical redesign of this development to make it more sensitive to the location and landscape before it is considered for approval. It must also improve its ecological credentials. This scheme contributes nothing towards biodiversity.

Should it be approved? Much as I would like an M&S Food locally, another out of town store will further damage our town centre which has seen several shop closures of late. Avenbury were told at the end of October to produce an assessment of the impact of on the town centre. In classic Blue Peter mode, Avenbury produced an assessment that had been prepared for it earlier. The assessment is dated 2021 and is out of date in many respects. Worse, it relies for much of its analysis on the Sainsbury’s application. The projections for impact have been updated but the data they are based on dates back to 2017. Since then, footfall in town centres has dropped and more shopping has moved online, including for food.

Using these out of date figures the impacts on the town centre convenience sales (excluding the market) are estimated to be:

  • Tesco: -15.5% (-£1.9m)
  • Local stores: 3.4% (-£130,000).

The overall convenience sales impact will be -12.7%.

There will also be impacts on stores outside the town centre:

  • Aldi: -24.8% (-£3.1m)
  • Sainsbury’s: -20% (-£4.0m).

No estimate for impact on the Co-op is provided because it is classified as a convenience store, not a supermarket. But arguably, it could feel the impact of the proposed store most. The retail assessment also claims that an M&S in Ludlow will “claw back” trade to Ludlow from shoppers that go to M&S elsewhere but this is not quantified.

This is a very detailed application which has clearly been in preparation for two years at least. But it needs much more work on design and landscaping before it is considered by the planning committee.

10 thought on “Marks and Spencer Ludlow Food Hall application must be improved”
  1. This application should be vigorously challenged. My gut instinct tells me that the independent food retailers will suffer significantly greater loss in trade than £130,00 pa. suggested. If M&S open I predict that at least two if not more independent Ludlow food shops will close, making a big difference to the nature of the town, which is still very special.
    In the event that the planning committee are offered sufficient inducements to allow this application, they should at least insist that the new store provides free long term parking (3-4 hours) with a regular shuttle bus into the town centre to facilitate the continued use of ours own distinctive local food retailers.

  2. I agree with Peter Burden’s comments. Ludlow’s unique, distinctive shopping experience must be preserved and not diluted by ‘run of the mill’ stores that can be found in many other locations.
    Shopping in Ludlow is one of my joys, with staff well known to the majority of customers, a sense of belonging and locality, and wonderful local food and other products on sale. I rarely shop elsewhere, and all my food shopping takes place in Ludlow. It is a major reason I live here and willingly pay my Council Tax!

  3. This should be approved, the area needs jobs for all of the young people who live here. Ludlow is becoming a place only for the elderly what with the application to turn the old budgens into a retirement complex. We need more for the younger generations in this area, I feel they are being pushed out by the ‘not in my backyard’ groups. We need to grow and expand.

  4. It seems to me highly likely the store will be built in some shape or form. People are rightly concerned about its impact on the town centre. But let’s concentrate on what can be done in the town centre to fight back and ask some questions:
    * What is happening to the Andrew Francis shop – hardly any movement since the fire 2 years ago.
    * What is happening to the former lighting shop on Corve Street – hardly any movement over 3 years.
    * What is happening to the former health food shop next to the Butter Cross – seemingly not on the market.
    * What is happening to the former Pizza Express place in the Market Square – no apparent movement.
    I’m sure we could all add other questions about empty shops where nothing seems to happen. It’s like the lack of movement on repairing the collapsed town walls next to the church. If the town is an attractive and vibrant area for shoppers,locals and tourists alike, people will continue to come.

  5. Ludlow doesn’t need this – it is an opportunistic development without any merit and could have designed by a 10-year old. It sets a precendent for Ludlow sprawl based on car-use shopping.

    Also, I not that there is no clear statement of how power for the EV charging will be provided and there are no carbon reduction considerations in the design. The planning decision should reflect this.

    On Phil’s very cogent point – what are the landlords of these properties intending? That is surely the question. More infill housing?

  6. And again ludlow oppose job creation
    We had all the doom and gloom about what would happen when tesco arrived however people now stay and shop in ludlow rather than going to other towns
    If ludlow wants more people to shop in town it needs to sort out the price of parking
    I also have to agree with Sara above as in we should be catering for all the people of ludlow not just the few with bigger voices
    Perhaps we could follow this with a pub/restaurant families can afford to go to

  7. All true, but you have to keep the core of the town going or else you have nothing to sustain the visitor economy…

  8. 70 full or part time jobs – how many of each ? There is no commitment to anything. Yes the jobs are important – so, how many will be generated & be consistent?
    Who are the target shoppers? M&S food halls are very expensive. It is of no benefit to the wider community.

  9. The design is very poor and certainly of little architectural merit- a white illuminated box and certainly not a building of merit for the gateway of a small market town. During consultation it was pointed out there was a large roof area that shoudl contain solar panels- none are present on the design. There is little sustainability and it certainly does not meet the spirit or the goals of zero carbon Shropshire.
    So it does not really conform to the pre app advice from the council or the comments made during consultation- slightly arrogant perhaps?
    The car parking shoudl be on an equal footing with the town center either paid for or free but the same for both
    As to competition; traders and other supermarkets need to compete on quality, customer service and a equal footing ( see car parking above) but doubt there will be the need for all the local traders and 5 super markets ( Coop, Tesco, Aldi, Sainsbury and M&S)- seems over kill.

  10. Now that the proposed development of the old Budgens site into retirement homes has been scrapped, the answer for me is to put M&S food hall on that site, not out of town.
    This would bring visitors into town rather than taken them away. It will also tidy up th now unsightly corner that once was Budgens and remains a primary access route into town.

Comments are closed.

Discover more from

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading