The retailer’s proposed 26,400 sq ft extension has secured unanimous backing from Cheshire East Council after planning officers switched their recommendation from refusal to approval.
The council’s strategic planning board signed off the scheme earlier this week after Cheshire East’s planning officers said they would be willing to support the scheme.
Planning officers had flipped their recommendation from refuse to approve after being won over by M&S’s evidence that no other sites were suitable for a retail development.
A late application by developer Eskmuir, which is opposed to the scheme, had been made to defer a decision, but this was overruled by officers, who argued “no further re-consultation [was] considered to be necessary”.
Previously, the proposed expansion was set to go before Cheshire East’s strategic planning board in August with a recommendation to refuse, but this was withdrawn late in the day.
Officers had accused M&S of not considering other sites for a potential development of a new store; these included 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.
Cheshire East planners had previously 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.
In updated evidence submitted to officers, M&S ruled out each of these sites in turn; at Churchill Way, Ask’s failure to bring forward a scheme was cited to be a suggestion that retail or leisure use was not viable; while at Duke Street, the retailer pointed towards an emerging SRF for Macclesfield which suggested this site would likely be used for a multi-storey car park.
At Exchange Street, which is used as a car park for B&M and Tesco, M&S said there would be a major adverse impact from a loss of car parking spaces, while the Arighi Bianchi site is currently in use and was not considered to be available for development.
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 summer had 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.
Avison Young advised M&S on its planning application.