Falkirk business: Former M&S High Street property going up for auction

A former M&S store in the heart of Falkirk is going under the hammer next month.

The property at 59-63 High Street, which also has a rear access into the Howgate Centre, was only bought earlier this year by Falkirk businessman Douglas Hannigan.

It is listed by Acuitus for an online auction on July 12.

The starting price is given as £300,000.

The former M&S Falkirk High Street store is going under the hammer next month

Falkirk Council has said it is “interested” in the outcome of the sale – months after rejecting the site as a potential new headquarters.

The auction listing states: “Prominent former Marks and Spencer store in Falkirk town centre. Important link between the High Street directly into the Howgate Shopping Centre with double shop front within the centre.

“Potential development opportunity (subject to planning consent).”

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M&S staff on the last day of trading at the Falkirk High Street store in August 2018

The property had been used by M&S for retail for almost 80 years before its closure in August 2018.

It is currently being used as a rehearsal and events space.

In February Mr Hannigan revealed plans to transform the 84,000 sq ft building which he proposed renting to Falkirk Council for its new headquarters, including space suitable for offices, a One Stop Shop and library.

At the time he said: “My aim is to increase footfall in the high street by one million per year. This, I hope, is the first step which will begin a domino effect in getting Falkirk High Street back to being a place to be proud of."

He also offered the council a five year rent free deal and was willing to fix the rent below the market rate.

However, his proposal was rejected by the local authority.

At the time a Falkirk Council spokesperson said: “Council agreed in September 2021 that officers should focus on the current Municipal Buildings site with regards to a new headquarters. Since then we have been progressing with a range of feasibility options and identifying costs and the information on these will come back to members for consideration in due course.

"This decision and activity does not align with the option of the former M&S building but we are of course always happy to engage with local business leaders on the future of Falkirk Town Centre and will be contacting Mr Hannigan to discuss further.”

Confirming the auction plans, this week Mr Hannigan said: “We decided to test the market.”

Meanwhile, Falkirk Council has revealed it is meeting the new owners of the Howgate Centre – Belgate (Falkirk) Ltd – this week and is keen to discuss any new activity in the town centre.

A spokesperson said: ““We are interested in the outcome of the former M&S building being listed for auction and are happy to discuss with any owners of town centre property their intentions to improve and sustain any new activities to improve the town centre. We have a meeting scheduled for this week with the new owners of the Howgate.

“Ongoing work is taking place in respect of the proposed Arts Centre and HQ replacement. We will be reporting on these to Council in the Autumn and will be seeking approval for the progressing of viable options. The report will contain a clear timeline for decision making.”