Developers have spoken for the first time about the site that was widely tipped to become a new Marks and Spencer store in Marlow, saying the “goalposts changed” when the giant announced it was going to close 100 stores by 2022.

It comes after plans to build flats behind the large retail space in the Windsor House development were given the green light last week, despite fears over parking in the town centre.

Sorbon Estates said it had been in negotiations with M&S for over four years regarding the unit and was “excited” about moving M&S to the “larger, prominent, gateway location”.

Managing director Tamra Booth said: “Following the announcement last year that M&S are closing over 100 stores by 2022, it became clear that the goalposts had changed. The abortive deal had nothing to do with access issues.

“Local agents advised us that they have seen a greater demand for smaller units so, in the interest of avoiding a prolonged vacancy, we applied for planning to reduce the size of the retail unit.

“This then freed up space at the rear which suited residential, hence the change of use at the back of the building.

“We are grateful to have received permission for these changes as it has brought a new batch of retailers to the table.

“The retailers we are talking to would complement the diverse retail mix in the town. What is very evident is that there remains strong interest in the retail market in Marlow despite online pressures and retail concern.”

“This enforces the importance of Sorbon Estates’ overriding objective for Marlow which is to always find tenants that are right for the long term.”