LEADERS of Ludlow’s traders fear that if a new supermarket and petrol station is built on the outskirts of town it will be the death knell for many long established businesses.

The Ludlow Chamber of the Trade’s response follows a public consultation about a potential scheme to build a supermarket and petrol station on land at Rocks Green.

In a strongly worded response to the scheme Muff Murfin, chairman of the chamber, warns of dire consequences if the project were to go ahead.

The chamber believes that an out of town development would be in direct competition with shops in Ludlow.

“It challenges consumers’ shopping habits and will no doubt reduce footfall in the town centre,” said Muff Murfin.

“Once a supermarket has opened out of town it sets a precedent for further development which will increase the competition to a wider variety of shops currently trading in town.”

He claims that the Government has said that out of town retain development has ruined highs streets up and down the country and turned urban centres into ‘ghost or clone towns.’

“Ludlow’s marketing of the town is for its many small independent shops and its unique local food and drink offer will be jeopardised by a large retailer on the outskirts of town,” added Mr Murfin.

He said that Ludlow had done better than many other places because it opposed out of town development and nurtured local businesses.

“We recognise that money spent in the local independents reinforces the strength of the town’s economy and that spent in national conglomerates sucks money out of the town,” he added.

“There is a strong infrastructure of local producers and suppliers into these retailers that deliver quality and value for consumers who will be affected by national supply chains, and impact on the area around the town too.”

According to the Chamber of Trade, Ludlow has more than 100 independent businesses offering a wide range of services but many are operating on a knife edge.

“It will only take a small drop in turnover to endanger the profitability of these shops and therefore the inevitable closure of a number of them,” warned Mr Murfin.

“Does the town need another supermarket when there are three big ones in town and one medium one very close by with a petrol station? The town’s population is currently only around 10,000 and even with additional housing as planned this cannot be necessary.”

The chamber are suspicious of the claim that the new project would create 250 new jobs and believe that some of these must relate to the construction phase if the scheme were to go ahead.

“It is the view of the Ludlow Chamber of Trade and Commerce is that this proposal is threatening Ludlow’s town centre livelihood where many locals work in skilled professions for yet another supermarket which frankly has little in the way of a business case and interest in the town’s future,” added Mr Murfin.

“The unskilled and low paid jobs that may be created will be outweighed by the loss of higher paid work and jobs in the centre.”