The council’s vision for the town centre has advanced with its final draft setting out seven core areas featuring development opportunities in offices, retail, and housing.
Following a consultation earlier this year, the strategic framework for Macclesfield outlines a series of development opportunities around the town centre, with the council looking to attract new developers to the town to bring forward a series of schemes.
Around Chestergate at the town’s historic core, the vision is to refurbish and repurpose existing buildings, primarily for housing; neighbouring plots around Jordangate are also targeted for redevelopment, with the masterplan outlining “aspirations for the modernisation” of the existing Jordangate car park.
Around the railway station, which the report states “does not currently create a good first impression”, there are ambitions to develop leisure, business, and residential schemes. There is also the potential to provide a plaza at Waters Green and to reinstate public green space around the station.
Meanwhile, the retail core is to see some repurposing and re-use of vacant space for food and drink offerings, with residential on the periphery.
Churchill Way is seen to be a key route through the town and has been earmarked for a “greener boulevard”; the report said this would “enhance first impressions of the town, improve legibility and wayfinding, and reduce car dominance, resulting in pedestrian prioritisation at key junctions”. Infill residential schemes are also among the options here, while consolidation and improvement of car parking is seen as a priority.
Sunderland Street and the Silk Quarter to the south are targeted as mixed-use areas with an ambition to deliver retail, residential, employment, leisure, and night-time economy uses.
Cheshire East’s environment and regeneration overview scrutiny committee is due to examine the final draft of the SRF next week, before it heads to cabinet for final approval later in 2019.
Cheshire East is set to lead on the SRF with roles potentially including land assembly, site preparation, bidding for funding, and engagement with stakeholders.
The SRF also mentions working with existing developers in the town – with Hillcrest, Peaks & Plains, and Huntsmere Construction all namechecked – while a number of national and regional developers are also said to have identified an interest in developing in the town centre.
Some development plans have come forward in Macclesfield, including by Nick Johnson to create an Altrincham-style market in the town’s Picturedrome; plans were also approved last year for a Lidl superstore. However, last summer, developer Ask pulled out of plans to build a cinema and leisure-led project on Churchill Way, citing “ongoing challenges with the food and beverage sector”.
The SRF was prepared by a team of Cushman & Wakefield, WSP, and Open to draw up the vision last year, supported by the Institute of Place Management at MMU.
Cllr Nick Mannion, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for environment and regeneration, said: “This strategic regeneration framework seeks to develop a new vision, strategy and ‘way forward’ to identify development opportunities to deliver jobs and economic growth in Macclesfield town centre.
“The aim is to provide developers and investors with the confidence and certainty needed to bring forward schemes and investment to revitalise Macclesfield.
“The strategic regeneration framework sets out a fresh and re-energised vision for the town centre, focused on its pivotal role as a catalyst for driving forward a more exciting and prosperous future for the whole town. It does so without losing sight of the town’s cherished and important heritage and a strong sense of Macclesfield’s unique character, which are rightly seen as important by local people and visitors.
“We all know that town centres and high streets are facing unprecedented challenges – not least from shifts in people’s shopping and leisure habits – but Cheshire East Council is responding to this with a clear vision and strategy. This will ensure we direct our efforts and resources where they will be most effective and have the greatest impact.”