Macclesfield Town Centre

Ask pulls out of Macclesfield cinema and leisure development

Ask has decided not to go ahead with a cinema and leisure-led development on Macclesfield’s Churchill Way, citing “ongoing challenges in the food and beverage sector”.

The proposals for the two-acre site opposite the Grosvenor Shopping Centre, designed by architect FaulknerBrowns, included a seven-screen cinema, and eight units for cafes, restaurants, and bars.

It involved a conditional land sale between Cheshire East Council and Ask, subject to Ask gaining planning permission, but the developer has now decided not to proceed “following much detailed consideration”.

A spokesperson from Ask said: “Despite the positive attributes of Macclesfield as a location, given the significant downward shift in the food and beverage sector nationally, we have decided not to proceed with our Macclesfield scheme.

“We have not taken this decision lightly. However, with investor sentiment pushing down pricing in the sector which is beyond our control, we are unable to progress.”

When it unveiled the project in December last year, Ask said it was “in the process of making final agreements” with an operator for the cinema, but had not confirmed any tenants for the restaurant and bar units.

A planning application was due to be submitted in the first quarter of 2018, with construction work due to start in autumn. The professional team on the project also includes Curtins, Planit IE as landscape architect, and How as planner.

Cllr Ainsley Arnold, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration, said: “While I appreciate that this is disappointing news, to myself and many residents of Macclesfield, the challenges Ask have faced in making this scheme viable are understood in the context of the significant downturn in the market.

“The difficulties of others letting similar schemes across the country are well documented and it is regrettable, but understandable, that Ask and their funders have made the decision that this specific development is not deliverable.

“Macclesfield town centre is performing better than many at this time of significant challenge to the traditional British high street. At the last count, vacancy levels were below the national average and well below the average for the North West.

“With the advent of high-speed rail services, we are confident about the future of the town and the private sector is demonstrating equally high levels of confidence in Macclesfield as a place to invest in.”

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It doesn’t surprise me, it always felt like a scheme from the early 2000’s, I like and respect ASK but for project like this you need someone that has delivered more in recent times like UrbanSplash, Capital&Centric or MUSE

By John Symon

Disappointing for the town, this seems to have failed because of its heavy reliance on a fairly brief bubble in casual dining. I’d be interested to hear views on how big-ish sites in smaller town centres can be more reliably redeveloped in this day and age, other than with residential.

By Sten

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