STAFF getting free parking in Hereford city centre, if MandM Direct move in to Old Market Shopping Centre, is unfair, councillors have said.

The Herefordshire-based online fashion retailer has been looking for a new head office as it looks to move away from its current, dated, home in Leominster.

It has set its sights on the first and second floor of the old Debenhams shop at Old Market Shopping Centre, but Herefordshire Council first needs to grant planning permission for extra windows and other changes to the outside of the building.

It also needs to allow a previous planning condition to be varied, which would allow 119 spaces to be used by MandM employees without charge on weekdays – but councillors said this would "not be fair" in an objection.


Documents show that this is around 19.6 per cent of the total number of spaces, but a survey by consultants revealed that during the peak period of demand, 1pm on Thursday, May 12, there were 195 standard and 16 disabled spaces available across the car park.

The vast majority of those were on the top deck of the multi-storey car park, where it is expected that the majority of MandM Direct staff would park.

There would also be 40 cycle parking spaces on the ground floor.

Objecting to the plan, Hereford City Council said councillors felt it would not be fair for one business to have priority parking in town, while all other businesses need to find their own method of parking or commuting.

Councillors could back the plan though if there was a condition that staff pay a contribution towards having a parking space at Old Market.


"As parking is in such high demand in Hereford, and so many businesses are unable to provide parking for their employees, councillors could not justify this change," the objection siad.

The planning documents also say that if planners grant permission, it would bring a boost to surrounding businesses in the city centre, with around 250 workers using shops, services and other facilities around their working day.

Mike Tomkins, chairman at MandM Direct said the firm was a major local success story and, if Herefordshire Council grants planning permission, the move would "support the next phase of the company's journey".

Other parties are said to be interested in space on the ground floor.