M&S gets public’s support

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RESPONSES to a public consultation over a new M&S Simply Food in Harrogate have shown overwhelming support for the plans.

Developer St James Securities held the consultation last weekend to gauge businesses’ and residents’ views before a planning application is submitted.

Of the 202 responses given at the time, the company said 88 per cent were in favour of the development, 9.5 per cent were ambivalent and just 2.5 per cent - around five people - were against the plans.

Director Paul Morris said: “I think it’s testament to the fact that we were very careful about the choice of retailer for obvious reasons - it’s such an important site, a gateway into Harrogate.

“We had expressions of interest from all of the retailers and it was important that we were able to chose one which respected and complemented the existing district centre as much as possible and not one that was going to compete.”

He said the 170-space car park was deliberately designed as large as possible for the site, according to planners’ advice, to allow it to be used by people visiting other shops in the area with a planned two-hour limit.

The small car park area on the other side of Hookstone Road, currently owned by Nidd Vale, will also be improved and could be available for unlimited parking when the shop is closed.

He added: “Where the district centre is suffering is on inadequate and dangerous car parking provision.

“When we designed the store, we did look at creating a building hard up against the pavement. We would end up putting the car park at the rear and that wouldn’t encourage people to use it for shopping nearby.”

If permission is granted, the developer also hopes to improve the Hookstone Road junction, widening it to have three lanes - one for turning left towards Leeds, one to go straight on and one to go right.

Other suggestions made in the consultation, such as widening the footpath near the bus stop on Leeds Road, will also be considered as part of the planning application, which is likely to be submitted around the end of November.