M&S Hatfield store plan turned down ‘to protect town centre’

The Homebase store in Oldings Corner would have been split into two units

The Homebase store in Oldings Corner would have been split into two units - Credit: Archant

A bid to turn half of Hatfield’s Homebase store into a Marks and Spencer Simply Food outlet has been thrown out.

Planners at Welwyn Hatfield Council ruled the bid to open an M&S store in Oldings Corner would have too great an impact on Hatfield town centre.

But the company says it is still looking for a foothold in the town.

A planning application had been put forward in February to divide the Homebase unit into two.

At the moment the store – which is opposite the Tesco supermarket – does not have permission to sell food, and the applicants called for this condition to be struck off.

In the application, M&S said it had looked at shops in the town centre, but stated: “There are no vacant units sufficiently large enough to accommodate the proposed 1,291sqm unit for M&S Simply Food.”

But a council ruling stated that allowing the change to go ahead would deal a hammer blow to the town.

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It stated: “The proposal would be likely to have a significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of Hatfield town centre as a whole, which in turn is likely to have an adverse impact on future investment and the evolving strategy for Hatfield town centre.”

Following the decision, an M&S spokesperson told the WHT: “Hatfield remains an area of interest for us and we are currently considering our options.”

Homebase was contacted to clarify how it would respond to the application’s refusal, but no response was forthcoming as the Welwyn Hatfield Times went to press.