A DEVELOPMENT firm has outlined plans to transform a rundown town centre precinct in St Austell into a national department store.
Backing the vision outlined by Together St Austell – a group of business leaders spearheading a rival scheme to the proposed £110 million retail park and Marks & Spencer store at Coyte Farm – M&M Asset Management said it hopes to bring national chains to its latest purchase, Old Vicarage Place.
"It provides an opportunity to develop large units for national retailers. These units would complement those already on offer at White River Place and help complete the regeneration of St Austell town centre," said Matt Kelly, from M&M.
"We fully endorse the proposals set out in Together St Austell and are delighted to announce that we will be joining this initiative," he added.
But the firm, backed by Apollo Global Management, said the plans are unlikely to materialise if the proposed development at Coyte Farm is given permission.
A decision on that plan, submitted by Metric Property and Mercian Developments, is due to be made by Cornwall Council's strategic planning committee tomorrow.
"Clearly, our ability to invest will be seriously curtailed if Coyte Farm goes ahead and we will be registering our objection in advance of the planning committee meeting," said Mr Kelly.
Last month, Together St Austell, formed by the chamber of commerce and St Austell Business Improvement District, revealed its vision of a multimillion-pound development scheme.
The plans include a care home, more than 480 homes, retail and food outlets, and a petrol station.
John Kneller, chairman of the group, said the backing from M&M Asset Management was a huge endorsement.
"It's great to have them on board as they have vast experience in the property investment industry and are backed by a global player," he said.
"In developing Old Vicarage Place they will provide space for a national department store that will provide the people of St Austell with more choice and convenience.
"Their support of the Together St Austell vision demonstrates it is a serious and workable plan that will reap rewards for our town long into the future."