Revised revamp plans for empty Felixstowe M&S keep shopfloor space
PUBLISHED: 16:30 04 June 2020
Developers have submitted new proposals for Felixstowe’s empty M&S store – and plan to leave the shopfloor at its current size.
Planning officers refused the previously proposed £6.3million transformation of the property in Hamilton Road because they said moves to halve the size of the shopfloor were premature and could harm the viability and vitality of the town centre.
They said retailers were looking for large premises at the resort and had published a list of those seeking sites, even though developer Occidental Ltd’s consultants say months of marketing have generated little interest.
The company has now put in new plans for the site with the 3,412 sq ft shopfloor unchanged but with modifications to upper storeys to create 14 flats instead of the initially proposed 16 apartments, and keeping the rear loading bay.
It says it has now addressed all East Suffolk Council’s reasons for refusal.
Property consultants Artisan, for Occidental, said “interest in the premises either on the basis as a large-scale retail unit or even in a smaller format, has been very limited to date”.
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Marketing is continuing nationally, regionally and locally.
Planning Direct, for Occidental, said: “The new proposals address fully the council’s reasons for refusal by retaining the ground floor retail area and reducing the bulk of the top floor extension.
“This has been achieved by internal demolition of upper floors whilst retaining the facades to Hamilton and Highfield Roads, resulting in a lower top floor. The top floor is in two parts but with set backs from both streets.
“The Hamilton Road set-back is considerable and means that the top storey would be barely discernible from the prime shopping street.
“This revised proposal results in a reduction in the number of proposed flats from 16 to 14. The council has indicated that the principle of new flats on this site is acceptable.
“The council is now expected to approve these new applications without further prevarication and delay, thereby facilitating much-needed new investment and regeneration in Felixstowe central’s prime business district.”
Around 8,000 objections were made last year when M&S shut the store after 80 years as part of closure of 100 stores nationwide. Protesters appealed to the company to make the store a food hall only but this was rejected.
East Suffolk Council is consulting on the current proposals and planning officers are expected to make a decision this summer.
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