M&S could keep foodhall in The Howard Centre following council plea

Tony Kingsbury Howard Centre Marks and Spencer

Council leader Tony Kingsbury has been lobbying M&S to stay in The Howard Centre. - Credit: Archant/PA

Retailer Marks & SPencer could now retain a foodhall in Welwyn Garden City despite the closure of its Howard Centre store, if the council get their way.

The Welwyn Hatfield Times revealed last month that meetings would take place between the council, M&S and The Howard Centre over the future of the unit when the store closes in April.

WHBC has now confirmed that they have met with the Centre’s owners to find the best use of the space once trading stops.

They have also made a desperate plea to Marks & Spencer, asking them to consider retaining their foodhall.

READ MORE: Shoppers predict ‘demise’ of Welwyn Garden City town centre after store closures announced

“Following the announcement that Marks & Spencer are planning to close their store in the Howard Centre in April, the council is working closely with M&S, and the owners of the Centre, on the best use of the space once M&S stop trading from the space,” said a spokesman.

“The leader of the council, Tony Kingsbury and chief executive, Ka Ng, have met with the owners of the Centre and will be shortly meeting with M&S to discuss possible solutions for the space.

“At the same time, the council is actively lobbying Marks & Spencer to retain a presence in the Howard Centre.

“Cllr Kingsbury has written to Marks & Spencer’s senior management to express his disappointment in their decision to close the store and ask them to consider retaining their foodhall in the Centre.”

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Cllr Kingsbury added: “We are working hard, together with M&S and the owners of the Centre, to find a solution to Marks & Spencer’s plans to close their store in the Howard Centre.

“The council is completely committed to wider development of Welwyn Garden City town centre as can be seen from the ongoing improvement works to Stonehills, including the remodelling of the Anniversary Gardens.

“Meanwhile we continue to move forward with the WGC 2120 project, a new phase of development delivering new homes, retail and leisure space, and supporting infrastructure in the heart of the town centre.

“We will do everything that we can to find the best possible solution for The Howard Centre, for the town centre, its businesses and visitors.”

READ MORE: What is the future for The Howard Centre?

In a short statement, The Howard Centre said: “We share the disappointment with our customers of the recent announcement that M&S intend to stop trading from their space in the Howard Centre.

“We are committed to ensuring the future of the centre fulfils the needs of the local community and are working with M&S and the council to ensure the vitality of the garden city.”