WORK to build the Market Walk extension will start in October as M&S becomes the second big name to formally sign up to the £12 million scheme in Chorley town centre.
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.
Councillor Alistair Bradley, Leader of Chorley Council, said: “The news that Marks and Spencer has signed its contract is a major boost for the development and for the town centre as a whole.
“We’ve all seen in the media that new store openings are at a premium so for Marks and Spencer to choose Chorley shows they have a lot of confidence in what we are doing.
“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 extension to Market Walk shopping centre will see eight new units created including the two taken up by M&S and Reel Cinemas.
Restaurant and bar chain Loungers has already publicly committed to joining the development too with negotiations continuing on all the units with a range of businesses including a high street restaurant chain, a high quality regional leisure/restaurant operator and a national gym chain.
“We are delighted to get the deal with M&S over the line and we’ll now concentrate on getting the other units filled as quickly as possible,” said Councillor Bradley.
“With M&S, Reel Cinemas and Loungers signed up it will mean the scheme will generate a surplus right from the start but we’d expect to fill the majority, if not all of the units, by the time it opens ahead of the Christmas shopping period next year.
“We’ve worked really hard to move this development to forward because it is vital we broaden the offer in the town centre to attract new visitors and give it a long term future.
“The full set of improvements to the town centre, which total more than £16 million, will see some of the biggest changes in Chorley for many years. While I appreciate not everyone likes change we’ve all seen the in the news how the High Street is being affected by changing shopping habits so it is vital we adapt the town centre to make sure it is fit for the future.
“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.
“I’d also like to thank our MP Lindsay Hoyle for raising Chorley’s case at the highest level with M&S to ensure they knew what a great place Chorley is and all we have to offer here.”
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.