Two developers are involved in a battle to bring big name stores to Chippenham, but they are warning the town ain’t big enough for the both of them.
ING Real Estate Developments and Legal & General are fighting over whether TK Maxx will come to the town centre or out-of-town Methuen Park.
Peveril Securities, which owns ING, say Chippenham is in danger of losing the long-anticipated Bridge Centre development - and its anchor tenant, Marks & Spencer Simply Food - if the council permits the retail park application.
Until it knows the outcome, it is holding off on submitting its own application.
Terry Dinham, development manager for the Bridge Centre scheme, said: “Before we can proceed we need to get a number of lets confirmed, but it is difficult when there’s a competing scheme talking to the same people.
“Chippenham is not that big a town, there are only so many retailers want to come. If the council want the Bridge Centre development to succeed then they will refuse this [Methuen Park] application.
“Once we get past that hurdle, if permission is refused, we can move forward, but whilst that is hanging in the air it is too difficult a scheme to go forward.”
Legal & General has applied to install a mezzanine floor in the vacant unit adjacent to Next, providing an extra 9,000 sq ft floorspace.
According to its agent Blue Sky Planning, TK Maxx have agreed to occupy the unit if it gets planning permission, and this would create the equivalent of 40 full-time jobs.
It believes Methuen Park is the more suitable site for the cut-price designer label department store.
Director Craig Blatchford said: “The proposal will not give rise to any material adverse impact on Chippenham town centre and it cannot be located within a sequentially preferable location.
“In addition, the development will improve consumer choice and claw back turnover lost to other centres and TK Maxx stores beyond Chippenham.”
But Peveril fears if it gets the go-ahead, M&S will pull out and its plans will be scuppered.
Simon Chadwick, managing director of Signet Planning, agent for the Bridge Centre developers, said: “An important element of M&S continued commitment is that it wishes to see certain other retail units committed.
"It is clear from discussions that TK Maxx would take space in the Peveril scheme if the L&G application is refused and does not proceed.
“Peveril has decided that if permission is granted for the L&G scheme it will have to completely review its position because of the likelihood of M&S’s withdrawal.”
An M&S spokesman said: “We do have an interest in the Chippenham area. We don’t have any details at this stage, it’s very early on.”
The proposed Bridge Centre development involves 10 retail units and 200 car parking spaces, to be accessed via Bath Road.
The existing roundabout connecting Bath Road, Ivy lane and Avenue La Fleche would be re-modeled as the site of the Bridge Centre building would become part of the new retail development.
Savills and Cushman & Wakefield, who are promoting the pre-lets, hoped the retailers would be trading by Christmas 2015.
No one at Legal & General or TK Maxx was available to comment. Wiltshire Council said it expects to make a decision in mid-May.