MARKS & Spencer’s massive flagship store planned for Cheshire Oaks has come under fire.
Chester City Council’s planning board agreed on an 11-2 vote to oppose the huge 195,000sq ft two-storey development, planned for Longlooms Road, opposite the Vue Cinema.
But Chester doesn’t have the final say on the scheme. That lies with our borough council, which will discuss the plans in the coming weeks.
The store would have both food and non-food sales, a cafe, deli bar and restaurant, 850 car parking spaces for shoppers and another 100 for staff, and replace the existing Simply Food store on The Coliseum.
Councillors came to their decision after hearing M&S’s own figures that the store could drain away £6m worth of shopping a year from Chester city centre.
Chester’s development coordination manager Brian Hughes said: “There is great concern that the proposed development would have a detrimental impact on the vitality and viability of Chester city centre.”
Councillors heard the store is intended to cover most of Ellesmere Port & Neston and Wirral, with more than 750,000 people living within a 20-minute drive time.
It would be one of the largest M&S stores in the country.
M&S argues its share of the market in West Cheshire is “below average” and believes the new store would deal with this without affecting the viability of its existing two Chester city centre stores.
The company proposes to reduce reliance on travelling there by car by having new cycle routes, bus access points and a shuttle service.
Cllr Jim Latham (Boughton Heath, Lib Dem) said: “People should realise just how big this is, it is really huge. Issues of this magnitude should be considered by the Cheshire West and Chester council.”
Cllr Gwyn Cooper (Lab, City & St Anne's) said: “Ellesmere Port has a site which we do not.
“M&S have said they have a commitment to Chester. How long is that going to last?”