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Halliwell Jones Wilmslow set to close

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A car dealership in Wilmslow faces closure, with 133 jobs under threat, after BMW served it with a notice to terminate its franchise agreement.

Halliwell Jones looks set to lose its franchise next year, as its premises are considered ‘no longer fit for purpose’ by the German automotive giant.

Formerly Blue Bell BMW and Blue Bell Mini, the Halliwell Jones dealerships are spread across two sites in Handforth – with its BMW and Mini operations housed separately.

Earlier this week councillors at Cheshire East Council blocked an attempt by the firm to move both to a new combined site.

The Wilmslow Guardian newspaper reports that Phillip Jones, managing director of Halliwell Jones, revealed a letter from BMW UK to Cheshire East Council’s strategic planning board on Wednesday as it was discussing plans to build a new dealership near Handforth Dean.

Council committee members recommended that the scheme should be refused, and Mr Jones responded that this was “potentially catastrophic for my business and indeed many of my employees,” according to the paper.

He said: “I have here today official documentation sent to me by two senior directors of BMW UK which is not threatening to remove my Wilmslow franchise, it is in fact an absolute letter of termination.

“It is a termination of my business effective from 30th September this year.

“Subsequently upon my appeal it has been deferred until June 2019, subject to being rescinded only if I have in place by this time concrete and approved local authority and BMW plans for the development.”

The Wilmslow Guardian further reported that Mr Jones said the planning application was the result of 10 years’ work by both his company and the former franchise holders Blue Bell in looking for a new site.

Officers recommended the scheme for refusal because the site is designated as ‘employment’ land and car showrooms do not fall under that category.

The council suggested that open space around the site would be lost and that woodland habitats could be affected.

Committee members voted to refuse the scheme by seven votes to four.

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