Former M&S could be restaurant or shops plus flats as revamp approved
PUBLISHED: 11:00 03 October 2020
A major revamp of the former M&S store in Felixstowe town centre has been given the go-ahead – as the property owners search for a new occupant to take over the shop space.
Planning officers refused the previously proposed £6.3m 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.
But developers Occidental Ltd revised their plans to address East Suffolk Council’s concerns and now the new proposals have been approved.
It will mean the 5,826sq ft shopfloor will be unchanged but with modifications to upper storeys to create 14 flats instead of the initially proposed 16 apartments, and keeping the rear loading bay.
Marketing of the commercial space is continuing nationally, regionally and locally.
Penn Commercial says the premises could be sub-divided into two separate units if required, and would suit other uses such as a restaurant subject to planning consent.
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Around 8,000 objections were made last year when M&S shut the store as part of closure of 100 stores nationwide. Protesters pleaded for the store to be a food hall only but this was rejected.
Occidental said the go-ahead for its plans would generate “much-needed new investment and regeneration in Felixstowe central’s prime business district”.
The plans reduce the bulk of the top floor extension and reduce the impact on neighbouring properties.
The flats – four one-bed apartments, two studio flats, and eight two-bed flats – would be grouped around a central landscaped communal courtyard at first floor and all would have their own terrace or balcony.
Planning case officer Michaelle Coupe said: “The proposed works will cause less than substantial harm, which would be outweighed by the benefits of a continued use for the building, retaining a retail presence within the principal shopping frontage and providing much needed one and two-bedroom units.
“There would also be some improvements to the Highfield Road street facing entrance and boundary treatments with rationalisation and enclosure of the loading bay and removal of the existing unattractive canopy.”
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