After months of gloomy updates on the retail front, shoppers and businesses have at last had some good news – Marks & Spencer is coming to Chorley.
The retailer signed up to the £12 million Market Walk rejuvenation just minutes before a meeting of the full council last week – something that was greeted with congratulations by both Labour and Conservative councillors.
Councillors labelled it a “pivotal moment” for the future of the town centre with shopping mall owners Chorley Council saying it’s now “full steam ahead” to get the development built.
The M&S Foodhall, with click and collect service, joins the Reel Cinemas six-screen auditorium as the second major deal for the popular shopping centre.
Leader of Chorley Council, Coun Alistair Bradley, said: “With several major developments taking place in the borough, including the digital office park, this news sends out a strong message that Chorley is a place on the up and a great location for businesses to invest.”
The company had appeared to withdraw from the development when it began a wider review of its operations late last year.
And with IKEA scrapping plans to build a new superstore in Cuerden, saying the site was “no longer viable”, question remained up until the company’s commitment last week.
Chairman of the Chorley Trader’s Alliance, Malcolm Allen, said: “The fact they delayed it caused a few problems but we had to have faith and carry on.
“It’s excellent news. A few have complained about it not being a ‘proper’ M&S but this is the future of the business – food and click and collect.”
Malcolm added: “This is the future of retail. It has changed. “Combined with the cinema, restaurants, and markets, it’s a brilliant achievement.
“People are coming from Manchester, Bolton, and Wigan because it has the feel of a market town with new developments.”
Coun Bradley added: “Not only will this development support our excellent independent traders and markets, it will bring a vital income to the council, which will help us maintain services and keep council tax rises to a minimum.”
Chorley Council bought the Market Walk shopping centre in 2013 and planning permission was granted for the extension in 2016.
Work is currently taking place on creating dozens of new parking spaces to accommodate an increase in visitors to the town.
Coun Bradley added that he is confident the majority, “if not all”, of the new units will be filled ahead of Christmas next year.