Davies Street has objected to the M&S Food Store application (22/05682/FUL). Who, I am sure you are asking, is Davies Street? Who in this instance is the company that owns the Sainsbury’s site at Rocks Green. It has made an extensive objection to the M&S Food application south of Sainsbury’s on Sheet Road.

The objection says the combined impact of Sainsbury’s and M&S on the outskirts of town will lead to a cumulative impact on the town centre trade of 20%.

It also criticises the design of the proposed store as being no more than “a large plain white box”.

It is no surprise that conflict between supermarkets is beginning over the application. We have yet to hear representations from Tesco and Aldi, or the smaller store that could take a hit, the Foldgate Lane Co-op.

I will make views on this application known when it goes to the planning committee for a decision.

Supermarkets often don’t own the sites from which they trade. Consultants hunt for sites, then once the site is sold, hunt for a supermarket to occupy it and then submit planning applications (though these steps often run in parallel.) For example, the M&S Foodstore site will be owned by Avenbury Properties. Sainsbury’s is owned by Davies Street Ludlow Limited, a Sheffield based property developer. It has objected to the M&S Food application, though it does not mention that it owns the Sainsbury’s site, which would have been helpful.

Davies Street says the M&S store should be refused for the following reasons:

  • there is no need for a further foodstore in Ludlow as the town is already well served existing stores
  • the proposed M&S will have a significant adverse impact on the town centre
  • the former Budgens store in Ludlow town centre is available and a more suitable site under planning rules
  • it will lead to the loss of an employment site
  • and it will impact on the character on the surrounding area.

“As well as the small local shops, there are already a number of existing supermarkets in Ludlow. The opening of Sainsbury’s in November 2021 means that shoppers have plenty of choice… Ludlow is well provided for, and there is simply not a need for another foodstore… Sainsbury’s has helped to provide greater competition and enhanced consumer choice to the benefit of residents.”

Davies Street makes arguments about the combined size of the stores. The Sainsbury’s proposal was reduced in size after the Southern Planning Committee rejected it because it was too large. The combined size of M&S and Sainsbury’s will be bigger than the proposal that the committee rejected.

Using the retail impact assessment submitted for Sainsbury’s, Davies Street says:

“This will result in a convenience impact on the town centre of nearly 13%. At any time, this level of impact would be too high, but in the current economic climate when retailers and shoppers are being squeezed by the cost-of-living crisis, it will be disastrous.”

The point is made that Sainsbury’s has not yet completed two full years of trading. National planning guidance advises that two years are needed before the impact of a new retail operation can be assessed.

“The M&S application should assess the cumulative impact of both stores on the town centre. M&S have not done this because they know that the cumulative impact of Sainsbury’s and M&S will be in excess of 20%!…

“Having a further out of centre supermarket, will further discourage shoppers from visiting the town centre. Shoppers can currently visit Sainsbury’s and then go into the town centre to shop in more specialist, higher end independent shops. With the M&S so close to the existing Sainsbury’s, shoppers are surely likely to do high end shopping at the M&S rather than need to visit the town centre to the detriment of local shops…

“It is also uncertain what the longer-term implications of Covid and online retailing, as well as the Sainsbury’s will be on the health of the town centre, particularly as we face unprecedented economic headwinds. At such at a delicate time, introducing an out of centre M&S will be disastrous…

“The proposal is of a poor design of little architectural merit, and it does not draw upon the identity and character of Ludlow…

“The proposed scheme comprises a large plain white box, with no visual interest or break up of elevations. It is a generic ‘one size’ fits all design. M&S have not sought to acknowledge the sensitivity of the location and the vernacular of Ludlow. It also includes insufficient landscaping to help screen the development and will be an eyesore.”

As always, I will not take a view on this proposal until it is considered by the Southern Planning Committee later in the year.

8 thought on “Supermarket wars begin over M&S Food application”
  1. I believe that if there is a commercial interest to any planning objection then it should be declared. Your diligence re Mr Street is much appreciated, as is your very valuable newsletter.

  2. Regardless of their motives, all the objections raised are absolutely sound. There can be justification for building this ugly shed when there are already three supermarkets serving the town.

    1. Rather we need a good reason NOT to build it if we are using appropriately zoned land, there is capital ready, operators interested and local jobs resulting. The protests against such developments are usually massively self interested – ie they would have been arguing the exact opposite were their commercial interests served by a planning approval – or refusal. Most rural communities are damaged as a result of underinvestment and job shortages – not over investment!

      1. You have fallen for the capitalist myth that supermarkets create jobs. Jobs will be lost across the retail sector in the area as M&S recruits. I know several people waiting to apply. Some net new jobs will be created. There will be investment in construction. But how many local contractors worked on Sainsbury’s? There is not a significant job shortage locally. Almost every hospitality business is struggling for staff. But there is a significant problem with matching people to jobs. Far from investing in the rural area, M&S will import nearly all its merchandise. And nearly all of it profits will be exported. Compare that to Ludlow Food Market which could be badly affected. 100% of its merchandise is local and the large majority of profits stay local.

  3. Talk about pot calling kettle black. A more disingeuous set of arguments would be hard to imagine. personally I opposed the Sainsbury development and I also oppose the M&S application. However, having Davies Street lining up against the M&S application adds absolutely nothing to the argument. Complete self interest and not speaking on behalf of the residents of ludlow whether in support or against.

  4. Personally, I find the M&S ‘white box’ to be more attractive than the standard Sainsbury’s ‘pile of bricks’. The two can be compared at the Meole Brace site in Shrewsbury.

  5. I struggle to see what value Sainsbury has really added. Choice of goods after 3 months passed is limited, with range of goods decreasing on a monthly basis to the point that it is pointless to shop at Sainsbury. What is needed outside the town centre is more competition not less. I fully understand the comment re the old Budgen site.. but why should I be expected to pay for parking for the pleasure of shopping to a major retail outlet. I would rather drive to a retail park where there is free parking.

    M&S will hopefully further shake up the chain stores and the council (re overpriced parking), and give us some variety and more customers visiting the independents that exist in Ludlow.

    This objection to M&S Just gives me more reasons to not shop at what is a truly useless Sainsbury!

  6. I do believe that as an expanding town (just look at the large number of new homes planned for the towns environs), Ludlow needs to understand the need for an increase in infrastructure, including food shopping availability. It is ridiculous to assume that the existing supermarkets are complaining about the effect another will have on the Town centre, when they are really concerned about the competition. In reality, M&S would have a minimal effect on the town centre, indeed it would herald a growing community, embracing a range of stores for all pockets.
    As to it’s ‘white box’ design, it will look largely modernistic and clean on a roundabout that houses a petrol station and the brick wall corner of Howdens with it’s visible sign. So, all-in-all hardly an eyesore above the existing architecture.
    Our town is naturally progressing (like it, or not) in many way such as increased Housing, Charging Points etc.etc. how odd it is that progress in expanded store facilities, for our benefit, is not embraced as readily.

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