Marks & Spencer has confirmed that it has ditched plans to open a new Foodhall in the town.
Proposals for a 16,000 sq ft M&S Foodhall in Fairfield Way next to a new Aldi supermarket were announced with fanfare in 2017.
Now the company is advertising the land and the store for rent, confirming what many people in the town had suspected for months.
A listing for the unit “on behalf of Marks & Spencer” has been advertised through Cheetham & Mortimer. It is available for other parties to lease from the company.
Questions had been asked of the retailer’s intentions as the Aldi store is due to open in May but updates on the foodhall had slowed.
A spokesperson for M&S confirmed the news, saying: “We’re committed to transforming our store portfolio, ensuring we have the right offer in the right locations.
“Following the reassessment and reduction in our Simply Food programme we are no longer planning to open in Whitby. We understand this is disappointing for the community and we are committed to securing a tenant for the unit as quickly as possible. We will continue to serve customers from our other locations in the region including M&S Scarborough and Guisborough.”
A Whitby councillor has spoken of the “disappointment” following the confirmation.
Cllr John Nock (Con), who represents Mulgrave ward on Scarborough Borough Council, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the publication of the rental brochure for the site confirmed the bad news.
He said: “It is disappointing to have confirmation of what many, including me, have suspected for some time, that Marks & Spencer will not be opening a store here in Whitby.”
“However, I understand that B&M is to take over the former Homebase building which will give a new dimension to the retail offer in Whitby and will be welcomed by a great many people.”
The brochure says of the site: “The proposed development is to comprise a two-unit scheme.
“Aldi will occupy Unit A with the subject premises, Unit B, to comprise a ground floor area of approximately 11,000 sq ft with additional mezzanine accommodation of approximately 5,000 sq ft. The unit will benefit from 112 car parking spaces.”
It adds that there could be the opportunity to “adapt the accommodation to suit individual requirements on a whole or split basis”.