By Mike Sheridan

PLANS to build a new supermarket in Ludlow have been approved by council planners, subject to improvements to road markings and pedestrian access.

The scheme for a new Marks and Spencers Foodhall for Sheet Road, near the A49, was given the green light by planners despite concerns from residents and councillors over the viability of another large supermarket in the town.

The revised plans were submitted in October after a previous application was withdrawn amid complaints over the design of the building, with developers bringing forward a new scheme which they said was more sympathetic to the local area.

Marks and Spencer say the development will create 70 jobs in the town, and will “unlock” a parcel of development land earmarked for commercial use by providing an access road and infrastructure for the site.

The plan had triggered fears over increased traffic in the area, with one councillor expressing his concerns over the impact of queuing traffic backing up onto the busy A49.

Councillor Andy Boddington (Ludlow North) told Shropshire Council’s Southern Planning Committee that he was worried that peak traffic periods around Christmas time would lead to people parking their cars on Sheet Road, particularly as the car park for the store had been downgraded to 160 spaces in the revised plans.

“If we look at what happened with Sainsburys, at Christmas there’s a backing up on the A49 with cars queuing for 40 minutes to an hour leading to ‘al fresco’ parking – Someone going through would be tempted to stop outside [on Sheet Road] and quickly pop into Marks and Spencer,” he said.

“I can find no real planning grounds to turn this down. If we threw it out today it would be overturned on appeal immediately.”

Councillor Boddington proposed a scheme of double yellow lines to prevent people from parking along the road, and requested a condition be added to make provisions for a road crossing over Sheet Road to safeguard pedestrians travelling to the site.

Local member Councillor Viv Parry told the committee that she had mixed feelings over the scheme, but felt the development may represent over-development of supermarkets in the town.

“It’s a matter for the committee members to make their own minds up on. Do we really need another supermarket in Ludlow, which would make four? I don’t think we do.”

The application was approved subject to a condition regarding a pedestrian crossing over Sheet Road, and a scheme to limit unauthorised parking in the area.