Applications have been submitted to convert the vacant gallery on Quality Square into a two bedroom house (23/01352/FUL; 23/01353/LBC). It will be the first building on Quality Square in recent times to have accomodation on the ground floor. The property is currently on sale with a guide price of £300,000.
The shop window will be retained with heritage glazed panels, which I assume will be blacked out obviating the need for blinds.
I cannot see that the conversion raises any heritage concerns. However, I do not accept the town council’s view that this plan is just fine in our town centre of independent retailers.
Quality Square has long been an attractive retail area, a quirky cul de sac that leads to the Rose and Crown beer garden or an alley to Castle Street car park. It would be a backward step to lose a retail unit in the heart of our town centre. Ludlow has built its reputation on independent traders. Number 4 Quality Square is ideal for an independent retailer and should remain a retail premises.
As far as I can see, the plans for the conversion meet conservation requirements. The plans are professionally prepared. I can’t say the same of the heritage statement.
The heritage statement is written by the agent for the application.
The applicants say the loss of retail space is only 96 square metres. That’s not much if you are thinking of major stores in city centres or out of town retail parks. The loss is significant in a small town that thrives on its reputation for local, independent shops. I can see no evidence that this property has been marketed a retail property since the 20 20 Gallery closed. The loss of another retail unit in Ludlow is unacceptable.
Ludlow remains a medieval town at its heart. Part of the excitement of coming here is discovering the back alleys and shops, cafes and hairdressers off the main drag. They make us different from many other towns that have uniform shops paraded on the high street. It takes a while to discover Ludlow town centre’s attractions away from the big hitters of St Lawrence’s and the Castle. But that is the attraction of Ludlow. It takes time to discover. That is an attraction we need to preserve.
Ludlow Town Council has indicated that it supports the applications and says it has no objections. Its decision, made just hours after the planning applications were published, are unfathomable. Decisions on planning should never be had made in haste. I would have expected the town council to have supported the town centre as a retail destination. The town council should reconsider its decision.