M&S Handforth

Council set to thwart M&S Handforth expansion

Charlie Schouten

Marks & Spencer’s long-running attempts to expand its store in Handforth look to have suffered a serious blow after Cheshire East planners recommended the scheme for refusal.

The 26,400 sq ft extension to the retailer’s existing store at Handforth Dean Retail Park, opened in 1995, includes demolishing the existing M&S entrance pavilion at the South East end of the existing store, and building on part of the existing car park, which will be reconfigured to provide 153 spaces. Plans were originally put forward in 2017 but before this month have not yet made it to committee.

Handforth Dean Retail Park and its surrounds have seen various long-running planning battles in recent years, with developers and Cheshire East arguing over the impact on local centres, including Macclesfield, if further retail is built out at the park.

In Marks & Spencer’s case, the council admitted the extension would not have an adverse impact on existing, committed, and planned retail investment within the catchment area of Handforth Dean, and there would not be an impact on “town centre vitality and viability” if the store is extended.

Despite this, planning officers have recommended the extension for refusal, accusing M&S of not considering other sites for a potential development of a new store.

In representations put forward to planning officers, there are claims that potential sites including Churchill Way in Macclesfield had not been considered; this site was formerly to be developed by Ask for a cinema and leisure-led scheme but the plug was pulled last year.

As part of its application, M&S said it had looked at a number of sites, including Daisy Bank Lane in Heald Green; Metropolitan House in Cheadle Hulme; Wilmslow Leisure Centre’s car park; Water Street in Stockport; Barracks Mill in Macclesfield; and the Massie Street car park, also in Cheadle Hulme.

Each of these sites were dismissed by the retailer, and Cheshire East planners accepted that none of these would be available and suitable for a new store.

M&S was then asked by the council to consider further sites in Wythenshawe, Stockport, and Macclesfield for the store, including a former Toys R Us in Stockport.

Cheshire East planners claimed M&S had not considered four sites in Macclesfield for the development: Churchill Way; the Duke Street car park; the Exchange Street car park; and Arighi Bianchi’s depot, south of Samuel Street.

Planners said M&S would need to show evidence it had considered these sites, and the former Toys R Us site, before it would be allowed to advance its plans at Handforth Dean.

Planning officers said: “Whilst it is accepted that the sites that the applicant has identified are not suitable to accommodate the proposed development, there are a number of alternative sites in Stockport and Macclesfield that require assessment or an update to the previously identified situation, before the application can be considered to satisfy the sequential test.”

Cheshire East’s planning committee will decide on the proposals at a meeting next week.

Your Comments

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I’m sure the people in Handforth, including anyone who works there, would be delighted to hear that the council are telling M&S to pack up and leave town for Stockport or Macclesfield, rather than sensibly expand their offer where they feel is right for their business.

By Mike

Completely agree Mike! Just because Cheshire East are making a right hash of their town centre rejuvenation plans shouldn’t give them the right to tell a private company that they can’t invest in their own business in an existing location, especially as the town centre retail is shrinking and said retailer has been closing shops. Maybe if they sorted their business rates and access into the town centres it might encourage retailers to open up again…

By Aevis

Its hard to believe that the Handforth Dean site has any impact on shopping in Macclesfield.

By georgeboi

We are talking M&S here, this will get planning!

By CBA

Is it ironic that it was Cheshire East Planners who allowed the Handforth Dean development in the first place? Is it too successful now?

By Mark Spencer

This is an excellent example of why the parameters, including the search area, of a sequential test should be agreed in writing with the LPA right at the start.

By NWPlanner

More tinpot dictators telling private companies how to handle their affairs. The success of Handforth Dean should be celebrated not used as a council football who are playing for extra time!

By Simon Calvert

Hope they appeal it!

By NT

I’m sure there are many of M&S’s existing and potential customers from a wide geographical area who would go to Handforth Dean for a variety of reasons, and who wouldn’t dream of going to any of the other locations mentioned.

By The Observer

I think you will find that Massie,Street car park is in Cheadle not Cheadle Hulme.

By Bernard Buxton

Ah the same case officer that recommended an even bigger Lidl store in an out of centre location in Wilmslow without the need for an impact assessment or a sequential test. So what is dictating the basis for such recommendations because it isn’t a consistent interpretation of planning policies.

By Richard

How degative can councils get, when stores are closing up and down the country, they refuse the UK flag store an exspantion plan.
I wish councils were more strict on real issues.

By Stewart jones

Cheshire East have recently approved thousands of new houses in the Handforth area. Do they expect all these people to take longer journeys (environmental impact!) to Stockport or Macclesfield to do their shopping?

By Les

Have you been to Stockport or Macclesfield recently to shop , it’s really poor .The council’s need to make it easier for company’s not harder and do much more investing to help private company’s .

By Linda

Linda – this is an out of centre location which is in direct competition with the town centres you say are really poor. Can’t say much for Cheshire East in Macclesfield – their priorities seem to be elsewhere – but Stockport Council have invested over £1bn in the town centre in recent years. Change won’t, however, happen over night.

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