Shropshire Star

M&S Foodhall plans in Ludlow 'temporarily' withdrawn

Retailer Marks & Spencer has withdrawn plans for a new food store in Ludlow, citing "procedural reasons".

Last updated
Picture: M&S

Road experts had urged planners at Shropshire Council to put the brakes on making a decision on the M&S Foodhall proposal until they had received updated traffic assessments.

M&S says the council requested that the company withdraw the application for a new retail unit to the south of Sheet Road for "procedural reasons", but it intends to resubmit the application soon.

An M&S spokesperson said: "We’re continuing to work on our plans to open a brand new M&S Foodhall in Ludlow.

"Whilst we are disappointed that the council has requested we temporarily withdraw our application for procedural reasons, we are working to resubmit our plans shortly.

"A new M&S store will offer Ludlow shoppers a wide range of great quality, trusted value M&S Food products and will make a positive contribution to the local economy by unlocking employment opportunities for up to 70 people and enhancing the existing, vibrant retail offer in the town.”

The request is believed to be one made for technical reasons because the determination deadline had been April 7. The council has been asked to comment.

Ludlow North ward councillor Andy Boddington said: “The current application for a M&S Food store on the outskirts of Ludlow has been withdrawn. A new application will be submitted in the coming weeks.

“The initial plans submitted by Avenbury Properties ignored preapplication advice from Shropshire planners that the design needed to be improved and the entrance road relocated.

“The design was a standard box of the type you can see on any retail estate across the country. It was not in keeping with the historic character of Ludlow and the countryside that surrounds the town.

“National Highways have challenged the highways assessment. It says it expects more car traffic than suggested by the developer, especially at peak hours. It is concerned that there are not enough parking spaces and that would lead to parking on the highway.

“Shropshire Council no longer allows planning applications to languish in planning system. It has recently taken a view that developers should come to the council with a proposal that is capable of being approved. Applications that need much more work should be withdrawn from the system, improved and then resubmitted.

“M&S Food is not the only application to be withdrawn under the council’s new planning regime.

"Plans for 215 homes between the A49 and Bromfield Road have stalled because of the difficulty of securing pedestrian and cycle access. These plans have also been withdrawn. The problems with this site, which have been in the planning system for a decade, will be much harder to resolve.

“A new application for the M&S Food Hall is expected to be submitted in the next few months.

“The design needs to be substantially improved and there needs to be better landscaping to reduce the impact on the site on views from landmarks such as Caynham hillfort. It should be a greener design, with a green roof to help blend the building into the countryside.

“This is an opportunity to deliver an exemplary design that Marks & Spencer and Ludlow can be proud of."

A spokesperson for Shropshire Council confirmed that the planning application was withdrawn on Friday May 19.

The spokesperson said this was to "enable the applicant to work on the resolution of outstanding issues outside of the planning application process.

“The application documents, along with the consultation responses, are available to view on the council’s website.”

Experts from National Highways had been asked to give their response to the plans as the store would sit close to the A49. George Hutton, an assistant spatial planner for National Highways, lodged his comments with Shropshire Council.

Mr Hutton said that based on an independent assessment, the proposed trip rates “appear to be underestimated”. He said 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 added: “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.”

By the end of the consultation period, the planning application had attracted a total of 54 online comments, with supporters narrowly outnumbering objectors by 29 to 24.