Appeal hearing over M&S Foodhall proposal

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A developer is quietly confident that a decision to reject a new M&S Foodhall for the district can be overturned later this month.

A formal appeal will be finally heard at the end of September for the plans to build the new store at Asdale Road in Sandal.

Wakefield Council rejected the plans over year ago, citing the land’s greenbelt status as a reason.

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But Melvyn Woodhead, chairman of Woodhead Investments and Development Services Ltd, which are behind the plans, continues to argue that the land has been abandoned for decades.

He told the Express: “They keep saying its greenbelt land but it has not been farmed for over 80 years, it’s just derelict.

“It’s just bureaucracy that has stopped it. There’s only 0.1 per cent of land in Britain built on and they have stopped this.”

The land off Asdale Road is already occupied by several supermarkets, including Asda and Aldi, as well as several restaurants.

The new M&S Foodhall would span 15,000 sq ft and help to create 50 jobs.

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Two new restaurant units are proposed as part of the plans.

“We are optimistic, you have to be really, but we’ve had a lot of support from the general public around Sandal, they are very much in favour,” added Mr Woodhead.

“It would put the value of their houses up having a M&S on their doorstep. We need all the support locally that we can get, but it will be up to the Government inspectorate.”

The move comes at a time when high street stores, including M&S, continue to suffer falling profits.

Several major chains have folded since the start of the year, including Maplin, Toys R Us and more recently, Wakefield-based Poundworld.

With neighbouring units vacated by Toys R Us and Maplin at Westgate Retail Park in Wakefield, some have suggested on social media that M&S could take over.

But Mr Woodhead said: “They would not like it there and would not interest them. They have looked at Wakefield and they want it near a residential location, not a retail park. Naturally, I’m biased but I think it would be right for Sandal.”

The M&S appeal is to be heard on September 26.