M&S will 'likely leave Blackburn' if plans for new £10m store are refused

Marks and Spencers said it plans to move out of the current store in King Street, Blackburn
Marks and Spencers said it plans to move out of the current store in King Street, Blackburn -Credit:LDRS

Upmarket clothing and food chain Marks & Spencers said it will 'most likely leave Blackburn' if plans for a new store and food hall at the Frontier Park retail hub are refused.

The property arm of Blackburn’s billionaire Issa brothers’ business empire has vowed to seek to overturn a planning officer’s recommendation to refuse its application to build the new M&S store on its Frontier Park retail hub. Monte Blackburn Ltd has proposed a new state-of-the-art base for the upmarket shopping chain on the multi-million pound development just over the Hyndburn border in Rishton.

In November M&S announced it was planning on vacating its current site in the heart of Blackburn town centre in King William Street. But on Wednesday it emerged that Hyndburn Council’s planning committee had been recommended by officers’ to refuse the application for the £10.1 million store when it meets next week.


M&S is proposing to move into a purpose-built larger store which would feature a new food hall on Frontier Park.
The application by the Issa brothers property arm Monte Blackburn Ltd,which owns the out of town retail estate, to build the store is due to be debated by councillors on Hyndburn Council’s planning committee on Wednesday.

But a planning officers’ report to the meeting urges refusal on the grounds there are better alternative sites for the development in the area. Now Monte Blackburn Ltd has made clear it will seek to persuade councillors to overturn that recommendation with the backing of M&S who say that building the new store is vital to them remaining in the town.

A statement from the company says: “Monte Blackburn Ltd. are pleased about the possibility of collaborating with M&S to develop an innovative Food Hall concept that will further enhance the appeal of the nationally recognised, award winning Frontier Park development which already has £100 million invested, supports over 15 companies and employs in excess on 1,000 people.

"We believe this development will have a positive impact on the local economy, boosting the local supply chain and fostering entrepreneurship, whilst also providing additional business rates to the borough. Our application demonstrates that there will be limited impact on neighbouring centres and the other sites suggested as being more suited, have all been considered and rejected as being unsuitable for a number of reasons, not least that M&S has considered but rejected them all.

“We will continue to strive to secure the necessary approvals for the project with our partners to demonstrate that the benefits of our proposals outweigh the sole technical drawback.”

An M&S spokesman said: “We believe this is the best location to deliver a brand defining new M&S Foodhall in Blackburn, guaranteeing the future of M&S in the town. With shopping habits changing, we need to have the right stores, in the right place, with the right space.

“The new fresh market food hall – double the size of the existing food hall in Blackburn – would offer customers a much wider range of delicious, great quality M&S Food at trusted value. Along with our partners at Monte Blackburn, we don’t think the benefits of the scheme have been adequately addressed in the planning review and there is still a great opportunity to secure the fantastic economic and social benefits of the £10.1m scheme.

"However should the application be refused by Hyndburn councillors, then it is likely that M&S will leave Blackburn.”

The planning officers’ report says: “The conclusion is that permission in principle be refused for the following reasons: the council considers that there are preferable sites which are available, suitable and viable for the proposed development and therefore the application fails to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the sequential test as set out in policy.”

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