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Marks & Spencer outlet in store for Ecclesall Road

MARKS & Spencer is looking to open a store in Ecclesall Road.

It is preparing to seek council permission to build one of its Simply Food outlets on the site of the Evans Halshaw car dealership, next to the Nursery Tavern.

Already nearby residents have been consulted about initial proposals, which include a 1,940 sq metre development and 65 parking spaces, before a planning application is submitted.

The company had been linked to the redevelopment of another car dealership, the former Gilders premises in Ecclesall Road South, Banner Cross, but it said this week that the Evans Halshaw site was now the only one under consideration.

A spokeswoman said: "M&S has opened over 350 Simply Food stores in the last eight years, both owned and franchised, and it is a successful format trading in a competitive market.

"We believe there is further potential for new Simply Food stores during 2009/10 and beyond. Initially our Simply Food programme was focused on convenience units, but we are increasingly targeting bigger sizes to make the most of our food offer and offer customers greater choice."

Marks & Spencer's interest in Ecclesall Road reflects a trend among supermarket operators to roll out neighbourhood convenience stores and, in Sheffield, to target the prosperous south west of the city.

A planning battle is currently waging at Parkhead over a proposed Tesco Express on the site of a former garage in Ecclesall Road South, near the top of Abbey Lane.

The latest scheme, for the car dealership, is expected to be much less contentious. The council says the location is in an established shopping district.

At the same time any application will be scrutinised for the traffic implications and the effect on residents living near the site.

Meanwhile the council is still assessing the scheme for the former Gilders site, which includes a supermarket and apartments. The area has a number of road junctions and the developers will have to convince the authority that their proposals will keep traffic flowing smoothly and safely.

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