Central Bedfordshire Council has officially announced today that it has taken steps which will allow Marks & Spencer to set up a Foodhall in Leighton Buzzard.
And in announcing it had approved an application to allow the sale of convenience food at the soon-to-be-built Grovebury Road Retail Park, the council has also reiterated that M&S was not interested in the more centrally located Land South of High Street development site.
The LBO reported in August that M&S wanted to come to Leighton Buzzard, and revealed earlier this month that CBC was minded to relax the Section 106 agreement food restriction on the retail park.
Welcoming the news, Councillor Nigel Young, Executive Member for Regeneration and Business at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “This is great news for the residents of Leighton-Linslade. M&S is one of the UK’s most popular, ethical and well-respected stores.
“Having an M&S Foodhall come to Leighton-Linslade means that their loyal shoppers no longer have to travel out of the area. An M&S in Leighton Buzzard helps drive competition and creates a new premium offer for the town.
“The council is continuing to work on plans for Land South of High Street and Leighton-Linslade as a whole.”
The council also confirmed that it had approached M&S on a number of occasions about having a store in Leighton-Linslade area, including the Land South of High Street in the town centre.
That site was judged by M&S to be unsuitable for a number of reasons, including the lack of free parking, and the site’s position behind the main high street which reduced its prominence.
The M&S Foodhall format is a specialist chain of small and medium sized foodstores selling predominantly a range of M&S own-branded convenience products. The M&S Foodhall at Grovebury Road Retail Park will be able to offer the ‘click and collect’ service for customers to purchase a wider items of M&S items than is offered in the store itself.
M&S has estimated that this new foodhall will generate between 55-60 new local jobs. Despite marketing, owners Claymore Phoenix Limited had previously been unable to find a suitable operator to lease unit B due to the restrictions in the original planning permission.