New M&S Simply Food gets thumbs upBy Jon Nurse
June 21, 2012
Plans to turn a former car dealership into a Marks & Spencer food outlet have been backed by local residents at a public consultation.
Images showing how the new M&S Simply Food in Shepherds Hill will look went on show to Woodley residents on Tuesday, May 29, and Wednesday, May 30, and more than 90 per cent of people questioned backed the project.
Philip Lunn, a development partner for Lateral Property Group, said: “We’ve heard the site described as an ‘eyesore’ and given the catchment of customers at the petrol station and current Simply Food store, the site deserves a bigger unit.
“From what we’ve seen in these sessions there is a ground swell of support for the project from both the community and councillors. We will take the feedback on board and tweak the scheme a little bit.”
Residents raised some concerns with the developer at the consultation over the provision of disabled parking spaces and the location of a cycle route by the site.
Mary Holmes, chairman of the Woodley Town Centre Management Initiative, said: “I welcome the re-development of the extremely neglected site.
“Some folk may see its coming as being a rival to the shops in Woodley town centre, but equally our town centre manager Jacques Lherbier plans to work with M&S so that in the future they will become a real asset to Woodley as a whole.”
The new Simply Food store would include a small café area with 50 seats.
The plans would reduce the size of the current building by 40 per cent to 15,000ft to allow for 96 car parking spaces with a green buffer of bushes around the site.
The store would create work hours equivalent to 48 full-time jobs.
A questionnaire was filled in by 73 people at the two days of consultation at The Oakwood Centre in Headley Road, with 66 people saying they believe it is a suitable site to build an M&S Simply Food, three disagreeing and four saying they were not sure.
Developers expect to apply for planning permission in the summer, with building work starting in January and the store opening in September 2013 should plans be approved.