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Home Bargains applies to open on former Wickes and Focus site in Penrith

Home Bargains

A discount retailer is promising to create up to 70 jobs and invest £2m in north Cumbria should it get the go-ahead for a huge new store.

T J Morris Ltd, the parent company of national chain Home Bargains, wants to convert the former Wickes store in Penrith into its latest discount outlet.

The company submitted a planning application to Eden Council to convert the now empty near-2,000sq metre site in Ullswater Road.

Wickes employed 16 staff at the Penrith store, which closed earlier this year.

Previously the site belonged to another home improvement shop Focus.

If given the green light by planners Home Bargains would add to growing interest in Penrith from national companies with firms like Marks and Spencer and Premier Inn poised to open there. Home Bargains currently has nearly 400 stores nationwide, including one in Carlisle city centre and employs 8,000 staff across its chain.

In a submission to the council on behalf of T J Morris, agents Quod wrote: “Significantly, the occupation of Home Bargains in the unit will create up to 70 new jobs and result in an investment in the local economy of in excess of £2 million.”

It says the jobs on offer will be both full and part-time with the majority of roles available to local people. The applicant’s submission added: “In addition to jobs within the store itself, other employment opportunities will be created.

“These would include jobs created by the store fit out and merchandising the store, and jobs involved within the future maintenance and security of retail units, cleaners, security guards etc.

“In addition to job creation, Home Bargains will undertake a high quality shop fit out which will result in an investment in the local economy of.

“There are, therefore, significant socio-economic benefits that will arise from Home Bargains’s use of the site.”

The firm is asking for permission to change the building, including altering the customer entrance lobby and introducing a new barrier controlled service for entry from Ullswater Road.

The car park will also be expanded to make way for 91 vehicles.

Businessman Dan Harding, the interim chairman of the Penrith Business Improvement District, said: “It’s better than it being another supermarket because Penrith is saturated with them.

“But the market seems to be there for discount stores like B & M, Poundland and that kind of thing.

“That’s what seems to be flourishing.

“It’s better than having an empty store.”

Mr Harding added that he would ideally have liked the site to be converted into some sort of leisure facility.

“It would’ve been nice to have something like a bowling alley or an ice rink, something for tourists and visitors to do if it’s raining,” he added.

Source : Jonny Irving - News & Star

24 August 2015

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