New M&S Simply Food gets nod by tight vote

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Plans to turn the former mail delivery office in Berkhamsted into a Marks and Spencer store have been given the go-ahead.

A meeting of Dacorum Borough Council’s development control committee gave the green light by a narrow vote amid concerns about parking, the size of a rear extension and access to the High Street site.

Councillor Fiona MacDonald said there was ‘insufficient parking and access’ but added: “I’m definitely in favour of an additional supermarket in the town.”

Councillor Ian Reay said: “I feel this is a too ambitious development for this site.”

Under the scheme the delivery office will be turned into an M&S ‘Simply Food’ store with a cafe and two further shop or cafe units with parking for 23 cars.

The frontage will be altered and the rear buildings will be demolished and replaced with a two-storey extension.

The meeting was told a survey showed 86 per cent of people in the town were in favour of the project.

Berkhamsted Town Council said it was not opposed to the store but it did object to the bulk of the rear extension, its impact on a neighbouring listed building and the ‘inadequate’ amount of parking.

In a report to councillors Herts Highways said: “The parking allocation is small but this is a pop in and out arrangement and of course there is the pay and display car park behind the store should it be needed.”

Councillor Colette Wyatt-Lowe said: “I do think this proposal is a very good way of bringing trade to what is the least attractive aspect of Berkhamsted. It will be a valuable addition to Berkhamsted with no adverse impact on the parking situation.”

The plans were delegated with a view to approval by a vote of six to five.