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Marks & Spencer confirmed for new food store on Station Road, New Milton, in 2022

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ONE of the worst-kept secrets in New Milton is out, with confirmation Marks & Spencer will be launching a new food store in the town’s high street next year.

The upmarket national chain had been strongly rumoured for some time to be taking over a unit at 85 Station Road, formerly occupied by a Co-op branch which shut down about six years ago.

As reported in the A&T, this could not be officially confirmed in August as contractors were already working on the site to prepare it for occupation.

The future M&S site in Station Road
The future M&S site in Station Road

But Marks & Spencer is now named as the company on a planning application submitted to New Forest District Council this month for signage associated with the building.

The bid for advertisement consent includes three internally illuminated 3D fascia signs, an internally illuminated box sign, an internally illuminated box billboard sign; and eight trolley bay graphic signs.

One of the documents attached to the application states the signs will read 'Marks & Spencer Food' and 'M&S Food'.

The development was welcomed during the latest full town council meeting last night (Monday), with members believing it would boost high street footfall and also benefit local trade.

Cllr Valya Schooling said: “There’s absolutely no doubt that having a Marks & Spencer on the high street will increase footfall no end and should in turn be very good news for our independent businesses.”

Suna King, the council’s town development manager, was also very enthusiastic, saying there was “rather a lot of excitement” as traders continue to recover from pandemic restrictions.

The unit was bought in 2017 by Smith Bradbeer & Co, which operates one of its department stores on the opposite side of Station Road.

In August Bradbeers director Justyn Davies revealed to the A&T it had agreed terms with “a leading national retailer” to occupy the premises. But he could not then reveal its identity.

The A&T has contacted Mr Davies, as well as M&S itself which was also previously tight-lipped about any plans for New Milton.

Mayor and town council chairman Cllr Keith Craze said an opening date had not been confirmed but was expected to be shortly after Christmas.

The consultation on the signage application runs until 3rd December, with NFDC set to make a final decision by the 28th.

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