MARKET traders and shops say December 2019 ‘can’t come quick enough’ with news of M&S coming to Chorley next year.

Council bosses announced that work to build the Market Walk extension will start in October and M&S became the second big name - following Reel Cinemas - to sign up to the £12million town centre scheme.

Malcolm Allen, chairman of the Chorley Traders Alliance, praised the council for managing to sort the deal. He said: “It is excellent news from our point of view and it has taken 10 years to get here since the Woolworths store closed and something needed to be done to keep the town centre alive.

“We mentioned we wanted three things - keep the market thriving, provide more adequate parking and bring other stores that people cannot already get.

“There could have been pound stores but the council have kept to their guns and delivered this. It will bring people into the area.”

At last Tuesday’s council meeting, it was agreed that the phases of development be approved which could see Friday Street car park completed in November, and Market Walk phase 2 completed by September 2019 and the Reel Cinema fit-out by November 2019.

Councillors labelled it a pivotal moment for the future of the town centre with shopping mall owners Chorley Council saying it’s now full steam ahead to get the development built.

The M&S Foodhall, with click and collect service, joins the Reel Cinemas six-screen auditorium as the second major deal for the shopping centre.

Cllr Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: “The news that Marks and Spencer has signed its contract is a major boost for the development and for the town centre as a whole.

“We’ve all seen in the media that new store openings are at a premium so for Marks and Spencer to choose Chorley shows they have a lot of confidence in what we are doing.

“With several major developments taking place in the borough, including the digital office park, this news sends out a strong message that Chorley is a place on the up and a great location for businesses to invest.”

The extension to Market Walk shopping centre will see eight new units created including the two taken up by M&S and Reel Cinemas.

Restaurant and bar chain Loungers has already committed to joining the development too with negotiations continuing on all the units with a range of businesses including a high street restaurant chain, a high quality regional leisure/restaurant operator and a national gym chain.

“I’d also like to thank our MP Lindsay Hoyle for raising Chorley’s case at the highest level with M&S to ensure they knew what a great place Chorley is and all we have to offer here.”

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle said: “I’m delighted that Chorley Council has attracted M&S to our town centre, I was involved in discussions with the M&S chairman and I know that the company thinks the site will be a real success.”

"We need to keep investing in our town centre, the market is thriving and the addition of new big stores, the Market Walk plans and other exciting developments will bring together the perfect offer for visitors and residents alike.”