Stores rule out thorntons move

Waitrose and M&S have quashed rumours they have thrown their hats into the ring to develop the old Thornton’s site in Belper.

Social media has been awash with speculation this week that the supermarket giants were interested in building a store on the land off Derwent Street after landowner Tesco ditched its own plans for a megastore there.

However, speaking to the Belper News this week, spokesmen for both retailers denied they were interested.

Leader of Belper Town Council, John Nelson, expressed his disappointment, saying that M&S would have flourished in the town.

He said: “I’m very disappointed if the rumours aren’t true. An M&S would do a bomb. It would be brilliant and would really suit the town. M&S brings people into town, like it has done in Ashbourne.

“However, whatever is put in there, it cannot be a massive store. And I think it’s important that anyone who develops the area should offer two hours’ free parking.”

Cllr Nelson said the town council was also interested in buying 30 acres of washland near to the River Derwent, behind the Thorntons buildings.

The authority is trying to identify the owner in order to turn it into parkland.The plans would not affect the area of land owned by Tesco, which would still be available for development. Cllr Nelson said the council was unable to afford to buy that area, which was being linked with M&S and Waitrose.

Last month it was reported Marks & Spencer was eyeing further expansion of its 419 Simply Food convenience store network. A few days later Waitrose said it planned to open 45 more Little Waitrose stores over the next two years.

An M&S spokesperson said: “Although we are always looking for new sites for our stores we are not looking to build a new store in the Belper area in the near future.”

A Waitrose spokesperson said: “We have no plans at the current time to open a Waitrose shop in Belper.”

n Who do you think would be a good choice for the site?