A TOWN is set for a major economic boost as retail giant Marks and Spencer finally confirms it is heading to Havant.
After months of speculation, plans have finally been submitted which show the new shop in Solent Road will be a full Marks and Spencer store selling food, clothes and homeware.
It is expected to create up to 100 jobs.
The news could not come at a better time after it was revealed earlier this week that SSE, which employs 2,600 people at the Penner Road office and more at Langstone Technology Park, will be moving at about 600 jobs to Reading.
Councillor Tim Pike, who represents St Faith’s ward on Havant Borough Council, said: ‘This is a huge vote of confidence for Havant.
‘Very few large supermarkets are being built at the moment so this is good news for residents who will no longer have to travel to Portsmouth or Chichester.
‘It’s good news for the town centre because it will bring more people in who will then use our other shops and cafes.
‘And it’s good for the town centre because of the number of new jobs it will create.’
The number of unemployed people in Havant is steadily falling, month on month.
But, Cllr Pike added: ‘Although the jobless total is decreasing, there are still many people looking for work in Havant so new jobs are always welcome.’
Permission for the development was granted last year and, despite the rumours, M&S would not confirm it was the company moving in.
But now an application for the advertising hoardings has been submitted, clearly showing it will be a M&S store.
Next is also moving from its current site in Solent Road Retail Park to a new unit just a few hundred yards down.
It will be much bigger and will bring more jobs.
Professor Alan Hallsworth, from the University of Portsmouth’s School of Business, said this is a perfect opportunity for Havant to ‘exploit’ the benefits that M&S will bring and make sure that people use the other shops – including in nearby West Street, which used to be the shopping heart of the town.
He added: ‘It is a vote of confident for a major new store to open somewhere like Havant.’
A spokeswoman for M&S said: ‘Plans for our new M&S in Havant are progressing well. We look forward to serving customers and playing a role in the local community when we open later this year.
‘Our store will bring the very best of M&S to Havant including our range of fresh food and our clothing collections that include everything from wardrobe staples to trend-must haves.’
It is understood the shop will open in May, but details have not been confirmed.