Harlow MP concerned jobs could go if Marks and Spencer planning application is refused

Politics / Tue 21st Oct 2014 at 04:59pm

HARLOW MP, Robert Halfon, has today met with senior management of M&S to discuss their proposals to open a new food store in the Queensgate Retail Park, and their plans for the current store in the town centre.

M&S has made an application for planning permission which will be voted on during a council meeting this week, however it is expected to face fierce opposition. However, Robert has urged the council to reconsider, fearing that refusing planning permission may lead to job losses.

During their meeting, M&S strongly indicated that they will be leaving their store in Harlow town centre as it was not economically viable regardless of whether they are able to open a food store in the Queensgate Retail Park. However, they did say that if the new store was approved, all staff would be able to transfer to the new store so that no current members of staff would lose their jobs. Furthermore, the landlord of Queensgate Property has indicated that they would not appeal any planning decision, meaning that the decision taken on planning permission would be final.

Robert said: “Let me get one thing clear: I would love Marks and Spencer to remain in the Broadwalk/Harvey Centre. I recognise its historic association with our town and also its value to residents and employees. I know that if the store moves, it will potentially impact on the successful regeneration of our Town Centre.

For this reason, I have met with senior M&S staff and urged them to stay.

However, the clear impression I have had from the company, in my meetings with them, is that they are likely to close the Broadwalk Store.

Marks and Spencer has made a commercial decision to move to Edinburgh Way, in part of the old PC World Store. The store will be mainly food with a few non-food items. Shoppers will be able to use the store for Click and Collect via the M&S website.

Most importantly, fifty jobs will be preserved that could otherwise be lost if the store closes.
Marks and Spencer have said to me that if the Council refuse planning permission on Wed evening, it is likely that they will still close the Broadwalk Store with fifty jobs at risk. They may leave Harlow completely.”

In a letter from the landlords of Queensgate Property, they confirm that it is unlikely they will seek to ask for an appeal if the Council refuse planning permission, making it likely that 50 jobs in Harlow will be lost from the existing M&S Store. The letter states:

“We’ve been working closely with M&S since March 2013 to assist you with your plans to remain in Harlow, in light of your plans to review the existing GM store. You will appreciate that having expended considerable time and money working with you, there is a point in time at which it is inequitable to take the process further as the project runs its course.

On this basis, I just write to confirm that, should the Council refuse planning permission on Wednesday night, we have no plans to pursue an appeal to the decision and it is likely that we will start looking at other options for sourcing alternative occupiers for the building.”

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