MULTI-million-pound plans to build new shops in Havant are moving swiftly ahead – and it looks like a Marks and Spencer could be coming to the town after all.
Developer Hargreaves will start to demolish old buildings this month and hopes to start construction this autumn on extending Solent Retail Park west along Solent Road.
New designs have been submitted to Havant Borough Council showing M&S as one of the occupiers of a unit.
There are five units in total, but other companies are not named on the designs.
M&S has already expressed an interest in bringing a Simply Food store to Havant, but has not been able to confirm it is opening a shop.
However, traders welcomed the prospect of hugely popular retailer in Havant.
Terry Jordan, who runs Ink World in the Meridian Centre, said: ‘It’s good for the town.
‘It’s a big name coming to the town.
‘It would be better if it was an M&S with clothes, but the food is a good start.’
Mr Jordan hoped that better signage would encourage shoppers to explore the rest of Havant.
Councillor David Guest, in charge of regeneration in Havant borough, said: ‘If they show drawings with an M&S, then I am thrilled to bits.
‘Obviously there’s one in Waterlooville and I believe they are trading quite strongly.
‘I anticipate a lot of people in Havant will be very happy.’
Langstone resident Ann Griffiths, a regular visitor to the town centre, said: ‘It will add to the range of food shops in Havant.
‘You have everything from Poundworld and Aldi, to Waitrose and M&S Simply Food.’
No-one at Hargreaves was available for comment last night to confirm if M&S had been agreed.
The developer’s agent, John Butt, told The News: ‘The development is moving forwards and they are very optimistic.’
The extended retail park already has planning permission, but the plans have been slightly amended.
The height of the buildings, if agreed by the council, will now be less than originally planned and be around the same height as the rest of the retail park.
There will still be almost 40,000 sq ft of retail floor space.
A planning report by Hargreaves states the changes are ‘necessary to accommodate prospective occupier’s requirements’.