IT IS one of the best-known names on the high street.

And now Marks & Spencer could be set to open a store in a Hampshire town, creating around 50 jobs.

The retail giant has plans for a food store in Eastleigh town centre, which it hopes to open from early next year.

It plans to put in a planning application next month for the 16,000sqft store, which will be on the site of a car park currently used by customers of the nearby Lidl store, off the roundabout that connects Twyford Road and Romsey Road.

If successful, work could start on the site later this year.

The store is part of the company’s plans to expand its Simply Food network by opening a further 150 stores in the next three years.

Marks & Spencer is working with Cordwell Property Group, which delivers retail and leisure schemes throughout the UK.

Cllr Keith House, leader of Eastleigh Borough Council, said it was great news for the town and followed in the footsteps of recent additions such as the cinema and restaurant development at the Swan Centre, the Travelodge hotel, the expansion of The Point theatre and the arrival of the council itself.

Eastleigh Borough Council moved from the Leigh Road civic offices to its £12m new centrally located headquarters at Eastleigh House last month.

Cllr House added: “Marks & Spencer will be a great addition to our town centre offer and its location close to the railway station and high street will bring more people into the town to shop and boost trade for all.”

Chris Smith, Simply Food acquisitions manager for Marks & Spencer, said: “The store will enhance our presence in the region and offer our customers the very best of Marks & Spencer food in a convenient location.”