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CLOTHING giant Primark wants to open a store in York’s city centre, The Press can confirm.

The firm is aiming to take over the Piccadilly building, part of the Coppergate Shopping Centre, which will be vacated when its current occupiers Marks & Spencer open a huge new store at a £90 million Monks Cross shopping complex next year.

Primark has long been rumoured to be interested in a York store, and it is now looking to move into the Piccadilly site, planning documents have revealed. The company is named in application documents submitted to City of York Council for a revamp of the site, one of the city-centre’s prime retail premises.

A final deal has yet to be signed, and approval for a new top floor and the extension of other floors is believed to be one of the matters which must be dealt with before Primark could be formally unveiled as occupier. The Coppergate Shopping Centre’s owners have confirmed they are in talks with a top retail name which does not already have a York store.

Primark has been looking for premises in York for some time, sources have told The Press. Its arrival would be a major retail boost for the city-centre following the controversy which surrounded proposals for John Lewis, M&S and Next stores at Monks Cross, approved by the council last year.

Council leader James Alexander said securing a John Lewis in York had “sparked much debate” about the retailers people wanted in the city. He said: “Many residents approached me and said York wanted a Primark.

“I asked the council to contact Primark, suggesting the Piccadilly premises Marks & Spencer would be vacating. We received a very positive response and a desire from Primark to be in York’s city-centre.

“Negotiations are ongoing, but progress is being made. I welcome any potential investment in York from Primark. Some residents currently travel to Harrogate or Leeds to shop at Primark – hopefully, soon they won’t have to.”

Primark said it did not comment on “store openings or speculation”. A spokesman for Centros, the development manager for LaSalle UK Ventures Fund which owns the Coppergate Shopping Centre, said: “While a formal agreement has yet to be finalised, we are in negotiation with a major retailer. They will be new to the city and they are keen to open a store in Coppergate.”

Len Cruddas, chief executive of Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “In principle, we would welcome Primark if they decided to move into York’s city-centre.

“It would certainly strengthen and broaden the city-centre’s retail offer and is also a retailer which is popular with younger shoppers. It is always good to get these shoppers into the habit of coming into the centre of York.”

M&S said it planned to leave Piccadilly at about the same time as its Monks Cross store opens, expected to be next April.