A Marks and Spencer superstore has been given the go-ahead by councillors, despite misgivings about its effect on the nearby town centre.The two-storey site at Eclipse Park in Maidstone was approved by the council’s planning committee last night.It will have 7,808 sq m of floorspace and sell clothing, household goods, food and have a cafe.It will become the second fashion retailer at the business park next to junction 7 of the M20, after Next opened a store in 2014.Planning officers assured councillors the scheme was permitted under the borough’s recently published Local Plan, despite that document’s preference to favour the town centre.They said Marks and Spencer had shown that no other possible sites were available.Councillors were told again that retail development at Maidstone East station, the council’s preferred site, could not possibly come forward for at least another five years.Marks and Spencer want to move in to the site next year.The company’s retail director Sacha Berendji said that M&S had not been immune to the stresses in the retail sector.It plans to close 100 stores by 2021 but he said the fact it is prepared to open a new store in Maidstone showed the the firm’s “total confidence” in the… Read full this story
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