M&S food store plans dismissed by Berkhamsted Town Council

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PLANS for a new Marks & Spencer Simply Food store and two other business units have been shot down by town planners.

Metric Property bought the former Royal Mail sorting office in Berkhamsted High Street and now wants to redevelop and lease the building to the food giant.

But members of Berkhamsted Town Council said at a Monday meeting that they would recommend permission for the work is rejected.

Councillor Garrick Stevens said: “Berkhamsted is a prosperous town and for that reason, we have got a prominent retailer wanting to be here. I think we should ask them to make a significant contribution to improving the infrastructure here.”

Councillors criticised the fact that despite public concern just 22 parking spaces are listed in the plans, which will create at least 40 jobs.

They also said the plans would make the building was too tall for its location.

Meeting chairman Laurence Handy said he was concerned by the potential loss of trees near the site.

But Councillor John Lythgoe said: “We will never get perfection in a development of this sort – or any sort – but this development has a lot of attributes and I think the town needs it.

“Waitrose needs competition and I think we should give them the go ahead.”

For the developer, Keith Neil-Smith said M&S has wanted to set up a Simply Food store in Berkhamsted for many years.

He said it would help revitalise a struggling part of its High Street, and that plans had been drawn up after wide consultation.

He said the sorting office looked ‘quite bland’ even before it shut. He added: “We would quite dramatically change the way that that building looks.”