M&S set to move from Blackburn town centre as council roll over to Issa Brothers demands

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Marks & Spencer’s wish to move into a site owned by the billionaire brothers has been granted.

Marks & Spencer have had an application to move from their Blackburn town centre site approved by the local council.

The store have voiced their desire to move into Frontier Park, which is a retail hub owned by the Issa brother’s property arm, Monte Blackburn Ltd.

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After initially being recommended by officers to refuse the application, Hyndburn Council planning committee has granted planning permission for the new £10m outlet.

Despite attempts from Blackburn with Darwen Council to propose that there are better-suited locations for the site, approval was given for the store which will be located off Junction 6 of the M65.

M&S announced back in November of last year its plans to close the shop on King William Street, Blackburn which has stood there since the 1980s. 

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The M&S store located on King William Street.The M&S store located on King William Street.
The M&S store located on King William Street. | Google

The popular supermarket had threatened to leave the area entirely if the Frontier Park store were not approved.

At the committee meeting on Wednesday, members voted 10 to three in favour of the application.

This was after M&S town planning manager Lynn Scott, and PWA Planning's Matthew Wyatt, representing the Issa brothers' property arm Monte Blackburn Ltd, said the retailer would pull out of the area altogether if the application was refused.

The Lancashire Telegraph reports, former Hyndburn Council leader Miles Parkinson, who was in attendance, said: "M&S is a premium brand and we should grab it.

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"Frontier Park is absolutely essential to the borough. Residents need to be attracted to it. We do not need to refuse this at the behest of Blackburn with Darwen Council."

Mr Wyatt said: "Alternative locations in Blackburn with Darwen are not commercially viable for M&S.

"Failure to approve the application risks not only the whole investment but also the jobs and economic contributions tied to it."

A look at what the proposed store at Frontier Park would look like if planning is approved.A look at what the proposed store at Frontier Park would look like if planning is approved.
A look at what the proposed store at Frontier Park would look like if planning is approved. | Marks & Spencer

Labour's Overton Cllr Scott Brerton, said: "I think it will be a huge boost to have M&S back in the borough."

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A late Blackburn with Darwen Council submission to the committee said: "The former Thwaites site, a sequentially preferable edge-of-centre site, is clearly available, and the development could also commence quickly in accordance with the M&S requirements."

The authority's leader, Cllr Phil Riley said after the meeting: "We are obviously disappointed by the M&S decision to leave Blackburn town centre, but this is driven by M&S national policies and is not a reflection on the town centre.

"We will now work with our colleagues to see what the next steps are for the regeneration of the town centre."

An M&S spokesperson said: "We are delighted that we can now move forward with opening a brand-defining new M&S food hall.”

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The firm will transfer all the 120 staff from Blackburn to the new Frontier Park food hall.

A closing date for the King William Street store is yet to be announced.

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