Will M&S soon be coming to town?

PUBLISHED: 07:06 08 March 2007 | UPDATED: 10:14 31 May 2010

RUMOURS that Marks & Spencer is coming to Saffron Walden have been sparked on the back of news that a land-owner is to hold a meeting on his intentions for the town. The Saffron Walden Business Forum is hosting a meeting on Thursday March 22 where Phillip

RUMOURS that Marks & Spencer is coming to Saffron Walden have been sparked on the back of news that a land-owner is to hold a meeting on his intentions for the town.

The Saffron Walden Business Forum is hosting a meeting on Thursday March 22 where Phillip Davies of the Monument Group, will discuss his plans for development.

The Monument Group owns land in Market Hill, Market Place and Lime Tree Court, land behind the library and the Eaden Lilley site.

Marks & Spencer is believed to be interested in sites in the town, but this week the company would not confirm or deny rumours that it is coming to the town.

A spokesman for the store said: "It is rumour and speculation that Marks & Spencer do not comment on."

In light of the meeting, the forum will be handing out questionnaires to shoppers, tourists and business owners to get their views on the way to protect small businesses in the town.

Secretary Jeremy Rose said the questionnaires, should be in shops by the end of April.

"We want to get businesses together and get feedback from local people about how we can grow Saffron Walden as a business centre," he said.

"We welcome the investment from companies like the Monument Group, but we don't want to turn around and discover a ghost town in the middle of Saffron Walden that has been concreted over.

"We want to generate interest in making Saffron Walden a centre of excellence."

Tony Pullen, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said he was concerned about the risk of Saffron Walden losing its character and appeal if more chain stores moved in.

"We're all a bit in the dark until

Mr Davies spills the beans, and there are rumours going around the town Marks & Spencer is coming here," he said.

"I am concerned about the risk of the cloning of towns and them all looking the same, with no variety for shoppers.

"All the small businesses in the town have to get together and unite to fight big business."

Saffron Walden Mayor Hilary Shibata, said small businesses are what make Saffron Walden the special place it is.

"I meet a lot of people from out of town who say what a lovely place Saffron Walden is because of the small, independent shops we have," she said.

"I think having small businesses selling a range of lovely things is one of the major attractions for the town and makes it the place it is.

"I fervently hope there's room for both big and small businesses in the town in the future."

Mr Davies was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

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