Another M&S coming to Brentwood?

A Marks & Spencer store looks set to open in Brentwood, leaving rival Waitrose to ask the council to explain why it has apparently been overlooked by developers as the town’s new food store.

A letter seen by the Recorder reveals a Waitrose executive has asked to meet council leader Cllr Louise McKinlay after developers allegedly suggested the council would prefer Marks & Spencer in William Hunter Way car park.

Developers Stockland are planning to build an Apollo cinema, flats, a multi-storey car park and food store on the site.

Waitrose’s development surveyor Ken Harrison said in the letter that: “This is a decision Waitrose fails to understand and would therefore like a formal explanation of. Waitrose has long held a desire to come to Brentwood. To achieve this aim we have been in contact for many years with Brentwood Borough Council and the belief that we would provide the anchor store for regeneration of William Hunter Way.”

He also questioned whether the planning committee would have approved the regeneration plan if it knew that the space would be let to a company which already has a store in Brentwood.

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In an earlier email from Stockland director Duncan Tindale to Waitrose, he said: “We have reviewed the current position and consulted with our partners at the council and following consideration of a variety of factors our analysis is that your competitor has a clear advantage... we regret that we will not be able to accommodate you and will be progressing this letting with them.”

But council officials have denied the claims.

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A spokesman said: “The developers of the William Hunter Way development have dealt with the decision making process relating to retailer providers for the site.

“Brentwood Borough Council has not made any recommendation or choice involving the retail outlets.

“This is a decision for the developer, not the council”.

Developers Stockland would not comment on which company has won the site but said it would be making an announcement soon.

A spokesman for Marks & Spencer said that it “has an interest in Brentwood” but could not comment on details of any plans at this time.

Two opposition councillors tried to raise the issue during Tuesday night’s council meeting but were told it was not the time to discuss the matter.

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