A special meeting of Rochdale Council’s cabinet was held last night to discuss the future of the Riverside development, following anchor tenant M&S’s announcement that it intended to pull out of the scheme at the end of last year.
Last night Rochdale councillors vowed to press ahead with the £80m project with partner Genr8, and reiterated that the council intended to hold M&S to its commitment.
Council leader, Cllr Allen Brett, said: “As far as we’re concerned, M&S have signed a legally binding contract to take space in the Rochdale Riverside development and we fully expect them to honour that commitment.
“We’re not going to let this issue derail what will be a fantastic development for the people of our borough, bringing 24 shops and restaurants, as well as a six-screen cinema, to the heart of Rochdale town centre. We will continue to work with our partner, Genr8, to deliver this game changing development for our residents and visitors.”
M&S signed up as one of the anchor tenants in the scheme in 2015, and was due to move out of its Yorkshire Street branch in the town and relocate to a new 50,000 sq ft store.
However, in November the retailer said it would not be taking up the space, and would continue to operate its Yorkshire Street store, stating: “We’re adapting to changing customer habits and this means taking some tough decisions – we’re investing in new stores, relocating stores and, in some cases, closing stores. In this case, we don’t believe relocating the store is the right move.”
Next and Reel Cinemas are also signed up as tenants for Rochdale Riverside, which will include 24 retail and leisure units, 350 parking spaces, and a six-screen cinema over 200,000 sq ft.
Cllr John Blundell, cabinet member for regeneration at Rochdale Council, said: “We’re gearing up to make a number of high profile announcements about the scheme in the next few weeks and more extensive ground investigations, needed to assess conditions before construction starts, will be getting under way next week. This is about a new and exciting future for Rochdale and we fully intend to deliver it.”
M&S has been contacted for comment.