Chesterfield councillors welcome M&S relocation plans - but say move will be ‘disappointing’ for town's high street

Plans by Marks and Spencer to close its town centre store and move to Ravenside Retail Park have been met with mixed opinion by Chesterfield councillors.

Thursday, 31st March 2022, 4:06 pm

Marks and Spencer announced on Wednesday that it will leave its current store in High Street and move to the former Debenhams shop on Ravenside Retail Park.

The news has divided opinion with many happy the retailer is remaining in Chesterfield as others question the impact it will have on the town’s high street.

Councillor Kate Sarvent, Chesterfield Borough Council's cabinet member for town centres and visitor economy, described announcement as ‘disappointing’ but said the focus remains on plans to regenerate Chesterfield town centre.

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Marks and Spencer will leave its current store on High Street when it relocates to Ravenside Retail Park

She said: “Marks and Spencer moving to Ravenside Retail Park represents a significant investment in our borough, creating more jobs and demonstrating confidence in the growth of the local economy.

"A new, expanded M&S store will mean they can offer a wider range of products and have a modern store that is fit for the future.

“Whilst the move is disappointing for our high street, we are making significant investments in this area to ensure we can create a modern, vibrant visitor destination which builds confidence in the town – including our ambitious town centre regeneration plans which are moving forward after we secured nearly £20m from the Government’s levelling up fund.

“The council does not own the building currently occupied by Marks and Spencer but we will work with them and the landlord to explore alternative uses for this key town centre building.”

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M&S has confirmed the current Chesterfield store will remain open for now and will only close for good once its new unit at Ravenside Retail Park is complete, with that due to open “later in the year” according to a statement from the retailer.

The closure will see another well-known name leave the area around Market Square, with Boots and Primark the only big national retailers left.

Howard Borrell, the Shadow Liberal Democrat spokesman for the town centre and visitor economy, said the move is both a “disappointment and a vote of confidence” as he called on Chesterfield Borough Council to rethink its regeneration plans.

He said: “So many town centres, with much bigger populations than Chesterfield - such as Birkenhead and Bournemouth - have seen their store close completely. Yet here the company has decided to expand and grow their range of products to meet demand, even though it’s moving a short distance, to the edge of the town centre.

"However the closure at a key site on the Market Place means that there is now an urgent need to look for new ways to broaden the town’s appeal.

“The forthcoming town centre regeneration needs now to encompass how best to re-purpose this soon-to-be-empty space and also how to enhance the town’s mix. All forms of art, public realm, inventive new markets and festivals, greenery and attractions that appeal to all ages will become essential parts of the package.

"The council only has control over its own property but it can encourage private owners to charge realistic rents in order to allow start-up businesses to flourish and allow innovative ideas to take root."

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