A regeneration project in Congleton town centre is back on the cards, after a decade of negotiation between Cheshire East Council and the developer over land holdings.
Scarborough Group and predecessor Modus have been seeking to acquire two council-owned assets in the town centre; the freehold of market square, and the leasehold of Princess Street car park.
Planning permission was granted in 2010, and revised in 2013, for a project known as The Mills, a £14m retail and leisure development, anchored by a supermarket. The plan was not progressed due to difficult market conditions and the permission has now expired.
At a meeting of Cheshire East Council’s cabinet yesterday, the council agreed to surrender the leasehold on the car park, the freehold of which is already owned by Scarborough, and sell the freehold of the market square “at open market value”.
A fresh planning application would be required from Scarborough in order to progress the project, delivering “a mixed-use redevelopment scheme providing new town centre retail and leisure accommodation, provision of public toilets, new square and improved market facility”.
Scarborough acquired the site when Modus went into administration during the recession.
The charter market – granted in 1272 – would be retained and continue to operate throughout the redevelopment. A new market provision is to be completed as part of the conditions required by the council.
Cheshire East Council’s executive director of place, Frank Jordan said: “Prevailing market conditions in the retail sector are challenging but the professional team working on this scheme are confident these proposals represent the best opportunity for significant investment and regeneration in the current economic cycle.
“Discussions are taking place with Congleton Town Council and other stakeholders and a full consultation and engagement exercise will be put in place throughout the planning process.
“It is expected that this proposed high-quality, mixed-use development will attract new retailers and brands, leading to an increase in footfall and a transformation of this part of Congleton.”