As reported on alderleyedge.com 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.
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