Stafford Borough Council’s planning committee have approved plans by Liberty Properties to build the M&S Simply Food store on Westbridge Park as per the proposals of earlier this year – ie to leave the green areas green but to build a Simply Food store on what are now the tennis courts and create a car park with 81 spaces on what is now the site of the Wells Bladen Girl Guide centre.
However, the the final decision may yet lie with a government inspector after the proposals have been submitted to Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. This could take three weeks. The plans are to include a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA), financed by the developer, would make up for the loss of the three tennis courts.
In a report on the application, the planning officer said it would not have a significant impact on the town centre. At the meeting, Liberty Properties provided a detailed and robust Retail Impact Assessment, which has been thoroughly assessed by the Council’s Officers and an independent retail consultant, on behalf of the Council.
They presented that:
• The store is expected to create around 50 jobs in total, a mix of fulltime and part-time roles.
• A further 30 fulltime jobs will be created through the construction phase of the development.
• The development will also see an improved junction into Westbridge Park.
• new M&S Foodhall will also provide 81 free car parking spaces.
A spokesperson for M&S told the Gazette:
“We’re delighted that Stafford Borough Council has granted planning consent today for Liberty Properties Development at Westbridge Park. Stone is an area that we’ve been interested in for some time, so we’re excited to be bringing an M&S Foodhall to customers in the town and the surrounding area.”
The application was passed with nine votes for and three against.