PLANS to regenerate Dewsbury town centre could convince Marks and Spencer chief to rethink shutting the town’s store, it is claimed.
The company caused an uproar last month when it announced its decision to close the Northgate store and replace it with a new outlet at the White Rose Centre near Leeds.
But Kirklees Council leader Robert Light says the company may yet return to the town.
M&S said the new 26,000sq ft store would create 130 jobs, but Kirklees, which is behind a £150m redevelopment scheme for Dewsbury, said the loss of the store would be a massive blow to the town.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel, says Clr Light.
He met the company’s senior management to discuss the decision and emphasise the council’s commitment to redeveloping the town.
Clr Light was told that M&S had not ruled out a return to the town.
He said: “They explained in detail their commercial reasons for leaving Dewsbury and we have to respect those.
“But in the longer term they did not rule out returning to the town some time, dependent on the successful redevelopment and regeneration of the town that we have as our vision with our partners.
“They were impressed with the council’s commitment and vision for Dewsbury over the next few years.
“They said they would reconsider their position as the regeneration and redevelopment of the town takes effect during that period.
“But they will not be reconsidering their recent decision to move out of Dewsbury.
“Marks and Spencer are keen to keep in contact with the council and its partners as the transformation of Dewsbury drives forward in the years ahead.”
Clr Light said the council would now work through the redevelopment programme to convince M&S to return to the town.
He added: “What is important now is for everyone concerned and involved in the regeneration of the town to pull together and work together and to take Dewsbury forward positively and enthusiastically.”
The council’s Cabinet has approved a masterplan, called Dewsbury Plus, for the town’s current and future regeneration projects.
There will be a project board which will have individual teams and managers for each of the regeneration schemes.
These include a major shopping redevelopment, a refurbishment of the market and schemes to help property owners improve their buildings.