LUDLOW has been given a boost with news that one of the signature businesses in the town centre will reopen after a major refurbishment.

The town has taken a hit with the closure in as many weeks of De Greys tea rooms, Marches Outdoors, The Mail Room Restaurant and The Deli on the Square.

But now work has started to refurbish The Deli on the Square that is scheduled to reopen in May as ‘Harp Lane.’

It has been purchased by local man Henry Mackley who has come back to his food roots after giving up a business career in the City of London.

He says that as well as selling a range of deli produce the new business will also open a small continental style cafe come restaurant on the second floor.

“I believe that it is the independent food shops that make for the character of Ludlow,” said Henry Mackley, aged 35.

“We want to provide good food for locals. A lot is made of the importance of tourists to Ludlow and they are important but they will come in perhaps once or twice a year while the local people will be regular customers.”

The plan for the restaurant is to provide a simple menu that may change from day to day.

“I want to keep it simple and shop on Ludlow market and at the excellent green grocery and butchers shops in the town," said Henry.

“The best cafes and restaurants on the continent are often the small places with simple menus that respond to what produce is good on the day.”

He said that Harp Lane will also sell local produce but other things as well.

“We will use good locally produced food but I do not want to be evangelical about this,” he added.

Henry Mackley trained as a chef and has worked for the past three years at The Ludlow Food Centre.

His father John, who died several years ago, and mother Lesley were among the founders of the Ludlow Food Festival. Lesley is still heavily involved in the event.

The closure of the iconic De Greys Tea Rooms last month January came as a major shock to the town but Henry says that this has not put him off.

“It is important that we do everything that we can to retain strong independent shops in Ludlow,” said Henry.

“They are after all the Ludlow offer. There are lots of other towns that have a wonderful history. It is a huge responsibility and I am very positive.

“I am sure that for many people it will remain ‘The Deli on the Square’ but we are changing the name so we can put a personal stamp on the business and because at one time Harp Lane was an important street in the town.”

It is planned to appoint a chef and other staff will be taken on in time for the opening which it is hoped will be ready for the Ludlow Spring Food Festival in early May.