Shropshire Star

Road experts put three-month block on M&S Food Hall plan to seek more information

National road experts have blocked planners from deciding on a scheme for a new M&S Food Hall as they think the amount of traffic it creates may have been underestimated.

Artist's impression of the new Foodhall

National Highways has recommended that planning permission for a new retail unit to the south of Sheet Road, in Ludlow should not be granted for a period of three months to give the applicant time to submit additional information.

Experts from National Highways were asked to give their response to the plans as the store would sit close to the A49 which is an important strategic road.

George Hutton, an assistant spatial planner for National Highways, has this week lodged his comments with Shropshire Council. A formal consultation period was dated to end on Thursday, March 16. It had a target decision date of April 7.

Mr Hutton says that based on their own independent assessment the proposed trip rates estimated "appear to be underestimated".

He adds that the extra information will help National Highways understand the worst-case assessments.

"While we consider the AM and PM peak hours identified as acceptable, we recommend that the applicant’s consultant undertake assessments for the neutral weekday AM and PM peak hours, alongside the Friday PM peak and Saturday peak."

He adds that: "However, as previously requested, we recommend that the consultant provides details on the methodology used to distribute the ‘new’ trips along with the associated calculations.

"As this information is currently unavailable for our review, we are not in a position to comment on the trip distribution assessment."

Ludlow councillor Andy Boddington said he was not surprised.

"The planning application was quite minimal and ignored most of the pre-application advice.

"Traffic was one of the big issues picked up before the application was submitted.

"Not just pressure on the A49 Sheet Road roundabout at peak times, but also parking on roads around the proposed store if the car park is full.

"The retail assessments on the impact on the town centre are also way out of date, based on analyses undertaken for Sainsbury's in 2017. The retail world has changed since then.

"If Marks and Spencers is serious about this application, it need to much more work to demonstrate that the scheme will work in the locale proposed without serious impact on highways and the town centre."

By the end of the consultation period the planning application had attracted a total of 53 online comments, with supporters narrowly outnumbering objectors by 29 to 23. It had a target determination date of April 7, 2023.

For more details visit Shropshire Council's planning website, where the application reference is 22/05682/FUL