Parish Council responds to controversial plans for new M&S foodhall

As reported on last month, Marks and Spencers have set their sights on Alderley Edge and revealed their intention to build a new foodhall adjacent to the railway station.

The company confirmed they have been looking for a suitable site for a new foodhall in the village for about 10 years.

M&S held an exhibition at the Festival Hall in July where members of the public were invited to voice their opinions before the proposed scheme for a new M&S foodhall is finalised and a planning application is submitted, which is expected to happen next month.

In response to this proposal Councillor Myles Garbett read out the following statement, on behalf of Alderley Edge Parish Council, at their meeting on Monday, 14th August.

He said "The village has recently been made aware of a proposal by Marks & Spencer PLC to develop land adjacent to Alderley Edge Railway Station. Our initial understanding, was that this development would incorporate an M&S Simply Food (similar to the one which forms part of the petrol station on Alderley Road, Wilmslow). Following a public consultation event organised by M&S, which took place at the Festival Hall on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd July, we now understand that the proposal is actually for an M&S Foodhall, which would be of a similar floor space to the existing Waitrose store at The Parade.

"Whilst it is important to recognise that no planning application has yet been formally lodged with Cheshire East Council, we understand that there is the intention to lodge such an application before the end of September. Whilst our view as a Parish Council is to remain impartial until we have had sight of the final plans, we would like to publicly record our observations, based on the feedback we received at the public consultation.

"Whilst some residents do appear to welcome the proposal in principle, it is clear that many others have expressed serious concerns and feel that further consideration should be given to the scale and massing, highways safety, staff parking and the potential impact on established businesses within Alderley Edge. Fears were also expressed that the addition of a third national food retailer would destroy the village character of Alderley Edge, which is something that a large proportion of those who responded to the Neighbourhood Plan questionnaire, were anxious to avoid.

"In due course, at such time as a formal planning application is submitted by M&S, the Parish Council will be invited to make a recommendation to Cheshire East planners. At that time, we will hold a public meeting to discuss the proposals in whatever form they then take and this will be at the Festival Hall, with all members of the local community invited. By virtue of the anticipated size and scale of the proposal, the application will also be automatically considered by Cheshire East Council's Northern Planning Committee, of which our Ward Councillor, Craig Browne, is also a member. This will also be a public meeting, held at Macclesfield Town Hall.

"In addition, we strongly advise residents to make their views known by posting on the Cheshire East Planning Portal once a formal application has been registered."

Following the public exhibition, which unfortunately I was unable to attend as I was away, I contacted both their PR company and Lichfields - the developers who led the public consultation - to ask for further information about Marks and Spencers' plans for Alderley Edge and some feedback from the consultation as to how many people attended, comments received from members of the public and what the next stage in the process will be.

I received the following comment from Stephen Morgan-Hyland, Planning Director at Lichfields, "The exhibition of the proposal for an M&S Foodhall and 73-space car park was well attended on both Friday and Saturday. M&S and Positive Location Developments both extend thanks to all those who took time to visit the exhibition, discuss the proposal with representatives from the development team and leave feedback. Lichfields is in the process of reviewing the feedback received."

At this stage the proposed scheme includes a car park providing 50 spaces for the store, a separate car park providing 23 spaces for rail users along with a new pedestrian access connecting the new car park with the platforms.

There would also be additional parking for rail users marked out on the opposite side of the railway tracks whilst customers and delivery vehicles would use the existing site access.

Subject to obtaining the necessary planning permission, the company says the new store could be open in 2018 creating approximately 50 new jobs.

What do you think about having an M&S food hall in the village? Share you views via the comment box below.

Alderley Edge Parish Council, Marks and Spencers


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Marina McHugh
Tuesday 15th August 2017 at 4:10 pm
I welcome M&S into the village. It will provide much needed competition for Waitrose. Small individual shops will still continue to do well as they are appreciated and loved in the village. M&S at the BP is limited by space constrictions so feel we need a wider selection.
Brian Etchells
Tuesday 15th August 2017 at 4:31 pm
My view is that it would be wonderful for the village as long as the parking issue is alleviated. If more was done in the village with the large, expensive cars not parking where they please, the congestion wouldn't be a problem.
Terry Bowes
Tuesday 15th August 2017 at 5:00 pm
I think Marinas reply is delusional, a Lidl or Aldi would be far better competition wise. For the snobs in Alderley look at Knutsford Aldi. They didn't want one but look at the quality cars on their car park now they have it.
George Marshall
Tuesday 15th August 2017 at 5:13 pm
Struggling to believe people actually think the village needs an M&S, plus why does Waitrose & Tesco need competition? What do you want them to do? Increase their floor space & offering in response therefore turning us into a town? Jeez, sometimes I feel it is just snobbery as M&S Food is "The place to be seen" for upper middle class folk.

I'd like to think that isn't the reason people are in favour of course, but no other reason stacks up!
Heather Wienholt
Tuesday 15th August 2017 at 5:23 pm
An Aldi in the village would complement the offer at Waitrose and provide us with a great choice of groceries. M&S is all the same again.

M&S told me they will have no provision for staff parking, causing even more congestion on residential streets.

It's a shame the station parking is going to be built on the park; what happened to #saveourgreenspaces

I would miss the station, M£S this size would obliterate it and I would be very sad to see all the greenery cut down on that corner.
Diana Bullock
Tuesday 15th August 2017 at 5:41 pm
Totally agree with George and Heather and, of course, how dare I not agree with Terry!
Harry Martin
Tuesday 15th August 2017 at 6:53 pm
The money M and S has ? Why bother with this consultation ? Just wait .M and S will have their way . It is already here .Plans have been made . Bet managers job is already on internal vacancies board .
Stephen Justice
Tuesday 15th August 2017 at 7:13 pm
I think it will be an excellent addition to Alderley's shopping options.

As for the criticism from others:

Has the provision of 50 additional parking spaces now been dropped? If not then how does the proposal not address incremental parking?

Regarding the station parking - I had believed it was to be combined with the additional spaces and extended to the other side of the line. Has this this now changed to be the other side of the road?

For staff parking, will there be so many staff using cars? Surely many staff will use the train or bus services and hopefully jobs will be filled by local people who can walk to work. I know M&S are respected as employers but are all their staff paid well enough to have cars?

As for the reference to the parking habits of large, expensive cars I don't see that is relevant to this debate.

Calling the suggestion that the proposal will bring competition for Waitrose "delusional" seems rather insulting - especially since the view was then "justified" by saying that Lidl or Aldi would compete better. How would a budget price shop compete with a premium one? If the commentator wanted to say he personally prefers to have an additional budget price shop - presumably to compete with Tesco? - then say so. I guess that is nearer the truth since he then calls people who may not choose to shop in Lidl or Aldi snobs. Again a rude and unhelpful comment which is compounded by a further silly comment about "the place to be seen".

And how does the rather nondescript station suffer from the proposal? I use it regularly and I think smartening the area up will be a good thing.

The debate should focus on assessing the benefits and overcoming any genuine concerns and not be decided on the strength of snide attacks on those who might be very pleased to welcome M&S.
Terry Bowes
Tuesday 15th August 2017 at 8:29 pm
Nothing rude intended Stephen, I use all 4 of the supermarkets mentioned in fact if you specifically shop for reduced items you can't beat Waitrose.
Paul Williams
Tuesday 15th August 2017 at 10:44 pm
Re Stephen Justice

Talking of rude and unhelpful comments

"are all their staff paid well enough to have cars?"

Some people in Alderley Edge might be surprised to hear that cars are available to purchase that cost less than £50,000
Fiona Doorbar
Wednesday 16th August 2017 at 7:10 am
If this article was about a proposal for 'x' amount of apartments or houses that would attract the same influx of traffic onto a dangerous junction , I believe that there would be an uproar of rejections.
The majority of staff will drive to work, I fear , as will the majority of customers (this is a Foodhall proposal not a corner shop!) so folk will shop here for substantial amount and will need a car to get their groceries home.
Our village is overflowing with traffic as it is.
Do we want/need to add to it or our food offering?
I was reluctant to add yet another comment onto on this subject but ended up adding one which included a plea to urge residents to lodge comments to CE planning once we are informed of a planning reference.
Marina McHugh
Wednesday 16th August 2017 at 7:59 am
As far as I remember the Coop did not work in the village. I did not consider snob value just interested in purchasing quality food. M&S have good offers too. As far as parking is concerned, this has always been a problem. People use their cars in the village when they could walk!! I think Harry Martin has probably got it right anyway.
Louise Mason
Wednesday 16th August 2017 at 10:23 am
I just don’t think our village needs a third supermarket. We are a village after all and we need to protect it. Adding another supermarket the size of the Waitrose site will totally change the way the village feels and looks. The plans clearly show the height of the store being taller than the level of London Road impacting the visual appearance of the village. Although the train station isn’t the most attractive this is not a reason to let M&S take over the whole site and develop it into a big commercial business.

A further worry is that Heyes Lane already struggles with traffic at the junction with London Road. Imagine M&S Delivery Lorries turning sharply in and out of the entrance to the train station (and then afterwards out onto Heyes Lane and then turning right onto London Road) combined with the additional cars belonging to shoppers plus the already heavy volume of commuter traffic using Heyes Lane, including school coaches picking up next to Barrington House. I can just imagine a chaotic gridlocked scene which is also very dangerous for pedestrians accessing the train station and crossing the road at the top of Heyes Lane.

I have written to Lichfields to express my concerns.
Mike Pilkington
Wednesday 16th August 2017 at 11:16 am
There is a real danger that an M&S Foodhall of the size proposed will damage the appearance and over shadow this end of the village. Can we really put a 'new Waitrose' on this small plot without destroying the character of Alderley Edge village?

The junction of London Rd and Heyes Lane is already extremely busy at certain times of day and the proposed entrance is too close to it.

There are already vehicles parked on the pavement during the day and a shortage of parking. Another 50 spaces won't even service the staff of the new M&S and it's customers so adding to the parking problems.

I'm not sure that an increased choice of convenience food is worth damaging the attractiveness of our village.
Elizabeth Mooney
Wednesday 16th August 2017 at 11:36 am
No thanks. I stopped using M and S years ago as it is overpriced horrendously crowded at Christmas and they are supremely skilled at putting all food with a short sell by date at the front easy to reach part of the display shelves and the food with a longer shelf life gets put at the very top or far far behind. They are worse than any other foodstore for this practice. Further as others have stated Heyes Lane with the bridge and blind junction is too dangerous. I hope wisdom and common sense prevail and the plans are dropped.
Gordon Massey
Wednesday 16th August 2017 at 11:50 am
M & S will be a great addition to the village, it will create healthy competion, of which Waitrose defiantly need, employment, parking spaces and the re development / landscaping of this particular plot of land. For those that disagree, go through the correct process as has been suggested, everyone has an opinion whether good or bad, unfortunately its progress and change and sometimes you either like it or you don't, let's see what the next stage brings.
Verity Williams
Wednesday 16th August 2017 at 4:25 pm
Since when must a village provide multiple forms of competition for every shop? There's no competition for the library. Given two isn't enough competition for supermarkets, we somehow need three, let's get two new bookshops. There are no national clothing or shoe chains to rival the independents, so a few of those? More running shops, kitchen showrooms. What else? Travel agents? Chemists? There's no competition for Cedric's. A Boots and Superdrug maybe?

Rather than debate which supermarket surely the question is does Alderley need a third? Is this development needed and appropriate? Alderley already has Waitrose, Tesco, Grantham's, Wienholt, the butcher, The Cheese Wedge, Murray's, Grantham's.

And it is 2017, online shopping exists, as do cars, buses and trains to travel to local alternatives, including the M&S at Wilmslow or Handforth.

Alderley already has congestion and parking issues. What is the projected footfall of an M&S Foodhall? Can the village take the additional traffic and parking requirements and still remain a village? We can assume 50 additional spaces will be swallowed up almost instantly by additional shoppers.

How will London Rd be amended to deal with additional traffic, Davey Lane and Heyes Lane especially? Maybe new lights are required as exiting both junctions can already be dangerous and difficult.

Can all of this happen without harming the nature and character of the village?

Then finally, if Waitrose and Tesco and all the independents really aren't enough, how would adding M&S satisfy everyone's particular preference? There's plenty of green belt to be converted for the big six, plus Aldi, Lidl. And what about more upmarket? Harrods, Selfridges, F&M, Partridges. Knutsford is quite far. What about a Booths too? Let's skip town status. Get a church converted to a cathedral. Alderley can be a city in no time and no one ever need leave the village for any shopping need.
Heather Wienholt
Wednesday 16th August 2017 at 5:28 pm
M&S have specifically said that there will be no staff parking on site.

They say they will employ locally and I do have some experience of this, there is a very small pool of local workers.

The majority will come from out of town and will drive and they will park on already congested residential streets.

There are so many problems with this proposal I think a sanity check is needed here!
George Marshall
Wednesday 16th August 2017 at 11:06 pm
Well said Verity! Even if there were competition (which we don't need) Waitrose wouldn't alter their prices or deals, they are set the same over the country, as are Tesco and any other chain for that matter.

Let's examine "Competition" senerario in depth:

-M&S food hall opens to both positive and negative reaction but attracts plenty of shoppers in the form of visitors and residents using the new car park.

-Waitrose improves its offering with an extra floor becoming a fully fledged supermarket. More visitors & residents park there.

-A new car park is build to cater for the extra Waitrose customers so constructs a multi storey on west street.

-The village gets busier with visitors and drivers, traffic becomes an issue, rent is increased in shop premises for the extra footfall now received.

-Local retailers close down unable to pay the higher rent.

-Premises are bought out by more bars and restaurant chains. Nightlife becomes even more busy needing extra police.

-House prices go up as does the crime rate. More "affordable housing" has to be built.

-Wilmslow and alderley merge through housing developments.

"Wilmslow with Alderley" becomes a Manchester suburb.
Mark Curtis
Thursday 17th August 2017 at 8:28 am
It's not just Alderley edge, queueing in traffic and trying to park is an issue everywhere that's the way it is these days.
Personally I would rather walk into the village and shop at M&S than get in my car and drive to Handforh Dean.
The area in and around Alderley train station has never looked very nice and some new development would improve the area.
So I'm giving M&S the thumbs up
Terry Bowes
Thursday 17th August 2017 at 4:25 pm
Just for Marina, the Co-op worked very well when it was on Trafford Road, loved by all and we still got our DIVI!!
On a more serious note there is a petition going round on behalf of local small retailers against the M&S proposal. A few of these shops are taking a big hit at the moment and will not be with us for much longer, This is progress.
This Village which with all the proposed building and development will soon be a town (and if the ribbon of greenbelt between Alderley and Wilmslow is not preserved) and a suburb of Manchester.
Vince Fogharty
Friday 18th August 2017 at 10:19 am
I for one will be doing as much as I can to stop it, M and S are very good at putting on the spin (could even give Alastair Campbell tips). They PR the headlines to suit the locality, so "Over 70 parking spaces" " we have been looking to bring the brand to the village for years" "Our brand will fit with the village" and so it goes on.

The extra car parking is a myth, firstly 23 spaces for rail passengers is 7 less than we currently have, fact! The spaces going in on the Manchester bound platform side are 3 blue badge spaces. The 50 spaces will be for shoppers with a 90 min time limit on them if a purchase is made in store according to their consultants. Staff will not have use of the car park and between 15 and 25 staff will be working at any one time depending on time of day etc. As Heather has pointed out already, local staff dont exist, ask any of our local businesses either retail or leisure, Waitrose have already said only around 10% of staff who work for them are from Alderley, and they pay higher than M and S. So as is the case with most the staff in the village they will drive in, adding to the already long term parking issue we have.

Alderley has a little over 4.5K residents in 2.1k households, not enough for M and S to target for a store this size, they will be targeting outside the area. Those customers will come in, use M and S and go, just ask the small businesses in Wilmslow how many Waitrose shoppers do their shopping and then go into the town as they have 2 hrs free parking? very very few, so it won't happen in Alderley. Any suggestion that it will drive footfall further up the village is nonsense. M and S customers are primarily "Brand Led" anything else is secondary to the loyalty to the M and S brand (a downfall for them these days trying to attract new customers) so they will not go into the village to use other retailers.

The size of it also has to be an issue, M and S only have windows at the front and bottom of their larger foodhalls for the entrance and cafe, the rest is usually white and brick, so 3 sides are like a warehouse. I have attached a link below of what Prestwich currently looks like. Going to be great at the entrance of the village.

Then lets look at deliveries, upwards of 4 a day using the current car park entrance from around 6am, the size of that store will not sustain anything less than that, the daily fresh produce alone will be at least 2 deliveries. Then over Christmas period M and S apply for temp planning to have "chiller units" in their store deliveries areas for excess stock. More noise, more deliveries, more congestion.

During my time of running over 800 stores across the UK I came up against the might of the big brands on many occasions, and they fight to win, they have whole teams whose job it is is to get planning agreed, they budget for planning issues and for fighting them, they will already have at least 2 more sets of plans ready to go to show "they have listened to opinion and made some changes" They then start to make small changes once open, so planning for a new illuminated sign, planning for illuminate signs for car parking, planning for increase in opening hours, and so it goes on.

Someone has already mentioned how important it is to voice an opinion on this with CEC when the time comes, whichever way it is, and they are correct, this is not just about a brand ending our parking issues, or making a scruffy area look nicer, this will change our village for ever, so for those who are looking forward to getting a £10 meal deal on a weds night, think how wonderful it will be when your trying to get back on London rd to drive home in December.
Michael Lee
Sunday 20th August 2017 at 8:59 am
One thing to consider regarding the planning application from M&S is will the business be around in 3 to 5 years. The results were out recently the yield on the company is 5.8%.

Not a sign of a promising business and the dividend is 38 times covered. Several men have tried to turn the company round without much success. Is it near the end?
Michael Lee
Monday 21st August 2017 at 9:07 pm
One small mistake is that the business of Marks and Spencer has a dividend cover of
point38 not 38 times.A business like this would normally be around one and a half times.
Elaine Napier
Friday 25th August 2017 at 11:59 am
My greatest concern is the enormous increase in traffic that an M and S store is likely to cause. I often turn left onto London Road by the station and it's already extremely difficult. Vehicles (mostly cars) hurtle over the bridge towards Alderley and, often, it takes a very long time to turn left. Turning right is worse. And the idea of enormous delivery vans and lorries negotiating that particular junction is really worrying - especially in term time, when large numbers of children are walking in the area.

I don't care particularly if I shop at Waitrose or M and S. I'd just like to achieve a degree of normality in my surroundings. I often walk to Waitrose because the nightmare of negotiating the enormous number of vast vehicles littering the car park makes parking a miserable experience. Still struggling to understand why people who live in a suburban area need vehicles more appropriate for the outer reaches of the Peak District.
Vin Sumner
Friday 25th August 2017 at 3:47 pm
There certainly seems to be a lot of forecasting expertise around , I am no retail expert so will stay out of that. From my limited capability of understanding plans without helpful virtual reality, the proposal does seem very innovative and makes use of wasted space. I agree totally with Elaine about the "access" issues ... am sure with thought some new "junction" can be created that might even solve current problems.

The extra parking at least should be welcomed by those struggling to find alternative approaches ; personally I would like to solve this by reducing the number of cars and finding alternative ways of moving people and stuff, including walking.

In terms of local shops then how about exploring ideas like local currencies/incentives/reward schemes etc for doing good stuff e.g. walking , that can only be accepted in true local shops

The tone of debate on here at times can discourage others responding and hence there are lost voices and skewed opinion; always a problem with consultation , loud voices not listening and respecting, so please respect all opinions even those you disagree with.
Mark Greaves
Saturday 26th August 2017 at 4:03 pm
Great idea and anything that adds parking spaces close to the village centre is most welcome