Gillespies to draw up Northwich town centre plans

Consultants Gillespies have been appointed to create plans for improving the key shopping areas of Northwich town centre.

The urban planning and public realm guide work will be funded by Cheshire West and Chester Council. Gillespies will draw up plans for improving the town centre and new designs for paving, street furniture, green spaces together with guidance on improving valuable historic buildings in the town centre.

The strategy and guide will be finished in the summer to allow the priority works to start as soon as possible afterwards.

Cllr Herbert Manley, executive member for prosperity and regeneration, said: "Once the guide has been created, the council and all businesses in Northwich will have a style guide which will pull together the right image we want for the town.

"It will have a direct influence on the Northwich of the future and will involve not just design but schemes on the ground."

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COMMENTS ON THE LONG TERM DEVELOPMENT OF NORTHWICH. THE PAST. Northwich administrators are to be congratulated on turning what, when I arrived many years ago was a dismal town, into the pleasant place it is today. THE FUTURE. Northwich has neglected the unique assets of its twin riverbank sides. This has now been recognised and I am pleased to see that the future policy is for them to be developed for community purposes. With a bit of imagination it could vie with Chester. I will not say any more about the river environment but for other areas I make the following comments: 1. The unique style of Northwich’s architecture should be preserved in future developments. Avoid large areas of dull coloured brickwork (like the area around Boots). 2. Avoid too much concentration of service outlets like banks and building societies in one area. Their preponderance at the bottom end of High Street has already sterilised the area around the Bull Ring. 3. English towns mainly have grown around the Parish Church. The natural axis of Northwich would run from the Bull Ring along the Dane bank to St. Helens but the by-pass has cut off the parts of Northwich to the St. Helens’ side of it. The long-term plan should look at ways to take out the bypass and allow Northwich’s shopping area to develop. The Castle area would have to be developed as well to allow the Bull Ring to become the focus both for the shopping areas and the leisure/community areas (bank sides and marina). 4. Let’s have a theatre with a good car park near it – essential. 5. The convenience of plentiful free car parks has been a major factor in the town’s rapid recognition and growth as a popular shopping and services area. This provision must be maintained and be an essential part of the plan if the developments proposed are to succeed and make Northwich the prime centre for mid-Cheshire. 6. This is going to cost a lot of money. Perhaps in the future the law will allow Northwich to run its own lottery to raise funds for development.

By T Bryant

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