Plans to transform the former Marks and Spencer building in Rugby town centre into a chocolate factory and museum were hailed as a godsend.
The owners of The Yum Yum Sweet Co. want to turn the disused shop on High Street into a heaven for chocolate lovers – Yum Yum World.
A ‘marshmallow canyon’, ‘sweet forest’, museum, cafe, factory, shop and soft play area would make up the bottom floor, with a ‘laser quest’ room upstairs.
Rugby First managing director Aftab Gaffar said if the shop reopens, it would increase footfall to the southern end of High Street and add to Rugby’s attractions.
“It was always the worry when a large shop like that is empty who is going to take it over as national retailers are not focusing on small market towns these days,” he said.
“But when it was bought it was like a godsend but what they are going to do with it we weren’t 100 per cent sure.
“Whatever it is it will occupy a large unit and secondly when M&S closed we had a number of shops who followed so our vacancy level increased.
“Fortunately some shops have come back like the bakery and gelato shop but with M&S being occupied it’s going to increase football to this end of town.
“I’m hoping whoever is in there will encourage footfall to that bottom end of High Street. It’s going to create something to add to the Hall of Fame.”
Yum Yum World would create six full-time and six part-time jobs in the Grade II listed building, built in 1908 and used as the town hall before M&S.
After opening a branch on Elliott’s Field Shopping Park in November, 2015, M&S shut its town centre store to the disappointment of shoppers and campaigners who called for it to stay open as a Simply Food branch.
The closure hit the town centre hard with many blaming it for a drop in footfall and other shop closures, but its reopening would be a big boost for retailers.
To view the application or leave a comment, click here. The planning reference number is R17/0848.
The developers have been contacted for comment.