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New M&S store for Worcester
MARKS & Spencer is to open one of its Simply Food stores in Worcester, creating 45 new jobs.
The high street giant has secured permission to open at Elgar Retail Park, off Blackpole Road, and says it wants to “compete directly” with the nearby Sainsbury’s store.
The shop will open in the unit currently occupied by Halfords, which is expected to relocate. The move was voted through by Worcester City Council’s planning committee despite furious residents protesting that the retail park is causing huge traffic problems.
Campaigners said nearby streets were already suffering because the 433 spaces on the park are “constantly full” at weekends and Bank Holidays.
But M&S secured approval to open up, which is expected to take place in the spring as soon as Halfords has moved out.
Halfords is in talks with retail park owners to relocate, partly because it currenlty only occupies some of its 1,363 sq metre unit, leaving a whole wing empty.
M&S will take up the entire unit, saying it expects to attract plenty of customers due to the location.
The company looked at seven other locations for a Simply Food store in Worcester, discounting them all because they were too close to the existing High Street store.
Nearby resident Norman James, who lives in Salters Drive, said: “If M&S gets established on this retail park I fear we’ll reach a tipping point and have serious traffic problems.
“Masons Drive and Salters Close already gets people parking all down them because they cannot find spaces on the retail park, they even park on Blackpole Road.
“Something has to be done.”
He said the growth of the retail park, which now has nine shops, has been an “ongoing problem” and KFC has made it worse, attracting litter, congestion and seagulls.
But Stephen Rose, from Indigo consulting, who represented M&S, said it would not be fair to penalise the company for traffic problems that “already exist”.
“If there’s traffic in the area that’s a conversation that needs to be had with the county council,” he said.
“We think it’ll be a popular store, it will do very well but it won’t make the problems that already exist any worse.”
The planning committee agreed to accept a lifting of restrictions so the retail unit is able to sell food and drink.
Councillor Alan Amos said: “I am not against M&S coming, but I am against the traffic problems it will cause.”
Councillor Paul Denham said he didn’t think it will make the congestion “significantly worse”, which other politicians agreed with.
M&S will join Next Home, Homesense, Maplin Electronics, Dunelm Mill, Argos and Homebase on the site.
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