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Creating good relationships with the local community was an integral part of the M&S Cheshire Oaks build process. We built these relationships in many ways – from creating new jobs in the area to supplying funds to create a children’s play area, 1.1km from the store.

Throughout the process we endeavoured to keep our Cheshire Oaks neighbours and local businesses in the loop. We’ve utilised social media channels, sent out newsletters and even spent over 100 hours giving guided walks around the site. The whole project eventually achieved a Considerate Constructors Scheme score of 38 out of 40 – this is a national initiative designed to encourage best practice beyond statutory requirements.

Community 2 Community 3

The store employs 500 people, of which the vast majority were newly created and 70 roles were allocated from our Marks & Start programme. Marks & Start, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is a work experience programme for the homeless, disabled, lone parents and young unemployed. Each participant will have a two or four week placement which offers them structured training with the day-to-day support of a coach and a buddy. To make the experience even more accessible we also provide them with travel expenses, free meals and a reference at the end of the placement.

As part of the build process, we also committed £5m to a highways scheme to revamp the area – improving junctions, crossing, cycle ways and footpaths. On top of that, we contributed a further £1m to town centre improvements and ensured that 50% of the construction spend was in the North West and 12.5% in the local area.

Read more about our work with the community in this detailed case study of Cheshire Oaks.

Since opening, the store continues to welcome interested parties to tour the site. In the first year, the store hosted over 100 group tours with over 1,000 members of the public hearing first hand about the eco credentials of Cheshire Oaks.

The store strives to keep in touch with their local community. It has good links with the local schools and colleges. Just in the first 6 months after opening, Cheshire Oaks raised an impressive £12,000 for local charities. And in one year, the store raised £25,000 for Guide Dogs for the Blind (Liverpool) and bought 5 Guide Dog Puppies who were named Bobby, Bet Cheshire, Oake & Spencer.

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