by Gary Porter
THE first stage of work on the massive multi-million pound Marks and Spencer store near Cheshire Oaks is imminent.
Ellesmere Port and Neston MP Andrew Miller says the company will begin clearing and preparing the land in the next fortnight.
He expects the construction of the flagship development, described as the ‘Marble Arch of the North’, to start in May and believes it could be open by 2011.
Mr Miller is awaiting confirmation of whether changes to the traffic light system near to the site will occur before construction or closer to the opening.
He said: “Marks and Spencer will be on site in the next couple of weeks. I’m told the main construction is expected to start as soon as the weather gets better.
“It’s really positive news. I’d be surprised if M&S are not targeting an opening in late summer next year, although that is a tight deadline as it’s a massive structure.”
The 150,000 sq ft store, which will become the company’s biggest outside London, is expected to create more than 350 jobs.
The development includes a 950-space car park and will offer a wide choice of womenswear, menswear and childrenswear, as well as home furnishings and technology products.
It will also have a wide selection of M&S food and wine available in the food hall, alongside a café, restaurant and deli.
Secretary of State, John Denham, granted planning permission for the store back in October last year following a six-day public inquiry and an inspector’s report backing the scheme.
In that report, the inspector said the development would not have damaging repercussions on retailers in Ellesmere Port town centre, Chester or Liverpool.