Cheshire East Council has terminated the development agreement with Wilson Bowden for the Silk Street scheme in Macclesfield town centre and will instead invite leisure-led bids for two smaller sites, both currently surface car parks.
At a press conference on Thursday, Cllr Michael Jones, leader of the council, said the 75,000 sq ft Churchill Way car park and 80,000 sq ft Duke Street car park would be offered to market for sale as land deals and not subject to development agreements.
One or both sites could be developed, subject to replacement of car parking.
Cinema, apartments, restaurants and cultural uses are being proposed. A full development brief is due to be published shortly and the contest is expected to take three months to appoint a developer. As well as the council’s cabinet, the decision-making process will involve the newly created Macclesfield design panel led by former Magnus boss Nick Hynes. Hynes said talks with operators and developers had started and several offers had been received already.
Jones said no money had been paid to Wilson Bowden to terminate the agreement. A compulsory purchase order for parts of the Silk Street development site will be withdrawn. CPO costs were met by Wilson Bowden, he added.
Debenhams withdrew as the anchor tenant earlier this year. Talks are ongoing with second anchor Cineworld to come to Macclesfield.
In Wilson Bowden’s proposal, Churchill Way was due to be used for a cinema and Duke Street for retail.
The leader added: “We believe there is a strong market interest in this project, which will be central to delivering a town centre that the people of Macclesfield deserve.”
The council is also close to agreeing a deal to buy Paradise Mill, home to historic silk looms, from local private investors. The building will be put into a community trust and preserved as a heritage attraction.
Council regeneration specialist Jo Wise has also been appointed as the new project director for Macclesfield town centre regeneration, to co-ordinate and drive the revitalisation of the town.
The Council has also committed £1m in capital funding to support projects to refurbish and revitalise the town centre.
At a Cabinet meeting on 30 June, members will be asked to endorse the termination of the Wilson Bowden development agreement as well as authorise the withdrawal of the Compulsory Purchase Order for the Silk Street scheme.
Meanwhile, the council is to sell its controversial Lyme Green site, where a waste transfer facility was procured improperly and had to be abandoned after work started on site. The two-acre site is likely to go for distribution use.