Cheshire East hires consultants for towns overhaul

A multidisciplinary team comprising Cushman & Wakefield, Mott Macdonald and Optimised Environments is working to produce regeneration proposals for nine key centres across the borough, including Wilmslow, Middlewich and Knutsford.

Cheshire East Council aims to draw up strategies over the next 18 months, containing “bespoke initiatives and solutions” to support and develop the towns and help them tackle their own distinct opportunities and challenges, it said in a statement.

The towns included in the project are Alsager, Congleton, Handforth, Knutsford, Middlewich, Nantwich, Poynton, Sandbach and Wilmslow. They are known as the borough’s key service towns.

Consultancy Cushman & Wakefield, transport planner Mott Macdonald and urban designers Optimised Environments (OPEN), have been hired to work with the council to prepare the so-called Town Centre Vitality Plans.

The project has already begun, with work underway to gain a deeper understanding of each of the town centres through site visits, market analysis, strategic document review and engagement with key local stakeholders.

Public consultations are to take place early next year on the emerging draft plans and the intervention projects proposed to support the “vibrancy and viability of each town centre”, according to Cheshire East. It did not provide any detail at this stage as to what the interventions may include.

The Government has acknowledged the need for investment in town centres across the country and has launched its Future High Streets Fund and Town Deal pots, as well as a High Streets Task Force and changes to the planning system to provide further support to town centres amid a challenging retail environment and economic slowdown.

However, not all towns have access to these funds and there is a need for an alternative approach, the council said.

Caroline Baker, head of Cushman & Wakefield’s Northern Region and its Manchester office, is leading the multidisciplinary team. She has expertise in town centre regeneration strategies, having served as a national judge for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Great British High Street Awards last year.

Baker said: “Town centres across the UK are facing unprecedented challenges – significant structural changes have been further impacted by Covid-19. The Government has acknowledged the need for intervention through the Future High Streets Fund, Town Deals [and other initiatives], but not all towns have access to these funds.

“We are delighted to be working with Cheshire East, to build on the work already being undertaken by the town councils and their partners and determine action plans to support the nine centres, so that they can respond to local opportunities and enhance their roles at the heart of their communities.”

Cllr Nick Mannion, Cheshire East Council’s cabinet member for environment and regeneration, added: “The council recognises the value of thriving town centres that meet the needs and aspirations of the communities they serve. Our local centres enable people to carry out day-to-day activities close to their homes, reducing reliance on cars and therefore bringing associated environmental benefits.”

The pandemic has “highlighted afresh the vital importance of our local centres, and the work will help the council and town councils understand where the opportunities lie to support their vitality and viability in recovery and beyond.”

It is understood that the focus of this study is on “next-tier town” strategies. Strategies have already been prepared for Macclesfield and Crewe – Cushman & Wakefield prepared a strategic regeneration framework for Macclesfield around two years ago and a regeneration framework for Crewe about five years ago.


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Not sure on what basis Cheshire East feels Poynton and Knutsford need a helping hand with regeneration, as both centres are thriving…

By Grumpy Old Git

Cheshire East hasn’t got a clue. Macclesfield was meant to be having an overhaul – so far they have refurbished an old bank but can’t get shops into them. TKMaxx is the most recent edition to the town and new overpriced box flats are being constructed in the old tax office. Shops are still closing down. If they can’t sort the second largest town in Cheshire East out, how will they sort out the other towns?
Cheshire East is losing a lot of business revenue as residents travel out of the area, to places like Manchester, Stockport and Hanley. The whole county’s town centres are a shambles. What Cheshire East Council needs to do is to advertise the town centres, and reduce business rates for a while to attract investment. Macclesfield is full of mobile phone shops and charity shops. It needs sorting out and soon, as it will only get worse, and at the rate these overpaid, out-of-date councillors are going it won’t be too long before there is nothing here at all, to be classed as a town centre.

By Anonymous

It’s about time Macclesfield were included in regeneration…….we have for too long been the ‘poor relative’ in Cheshire East

By Anonymous

Macclesfield should be on this list.

Potential is forever talked about but nothing is being done.

By Anonymous

Why was Macclesfield excluded? Our town is in as much trouble as the nominated towns.

By Mr A Pickles

Could Cheshire East consider repairing the broken tiles in the shared space in Poynton before people start to fall & have bad accidents?

By MERYL Stowe

End Cheshire East and go back to the days of Crewe and Nantwich council. We might end up with people in the council that want to see a Crewe Town Centre as opposed to the multistorey car park that’s part of the regeneration along with another bowling alley and cinema. What’s wrong with the current position is beyond me. You know you’re up against it when most decisions are being decided by folk that do not live in the area

By Steve Allen

Talking about town centres most of the shops in Crewe were closed over 12 months ago with the promise of great things…… Not seen much happening yet they say there is going to be more leisure complexes and a multistorey car park but we need good shops to get enough people interested to use the car park. I really don’t think cheshire East have a clue they need to ask people what they need and Listen to them

By Embarrassed Crewe resident

There have been plans to revitalise the centre of Macclesfield for the last 30 years. Look at the Macclesfield Express archives for a full list of the consultancies whose plans made the front page. Debenhams? A multiplex cinema? A shopping plaza? We are entering another period of austerity. Why do Cheshire East council believe these consultancies when so many predecessors’ ideas have come to nothing? Who will gain financially from this consultation?

By Anonymous

Macclesfield has already had a plan from this “wondrous” team back when the previous council were in charge. When they arrived they didn’t know the town and the plan is another gathering dust on the shelves. The High Street Task Force advice and recovery plan combined with community-led participatory partnerships are the way ahead for our town centres, not these overpriced one-size-fits-all external consultancies that don’t understand the DNA of the place. So I’d be glad if Macclesfield isn’t on the list.
I totally agree about the poor standard of towns across both Cheshire authorities compared to areas where local community participation is taken seriously. Towns like Todmorden, Frome, Stroud, Treorchy, Crickhowell, places like Preston and Torbay, that are harnessing community wealth building, and many more have character and strong communities that make things happen – that’s how placemaking should work.

By Placemaker

Asking Caroline Baker if her company is taking in residents’ comments with regard to regeneration. If this facility is available, where can it be accessed?

By Walter Thomas

Middlewich needs a major restoration work especially on the roads.
Middlewich also needs a bypass. It was supposed to happen 35 years ago.
Sandbach, Congleton, Macclesfield have had theirs twice. Surely it’s Middlewich next

By Phil gobbett

My comment for Nantwich, at least, is to smarten up the main approach roads to the town. First impressions are very important and to this effect Middlewich Road leaves a lot to be desired from the Rising Sun pub to Sainsbury’s roundabout. Once upon a time verges and hedges were cared for and maintained. What excuse do we have for allowing the conditions we see today?
The pavement along Beam Street from Crescent Garage is in very poor condition. There is a lot to do but if you intend to impress the public and attract visitors, then more is required than simply relying on history, which Nantwich and the surrounding region have in abundance. You also need to bring the infrastructure into the 21st century.

By Peter I Webster

Why do we need yet another bunch of consultants and why so many. How much are they being paid? It seems to me we have councils that are incapable of making decisions on their own and probably need to be advised as to when to go to the toilet!

By Brian Hall

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