Cheshire East Council is to commission an independent assessment of the town's retail economy before it decides on Wilson Bowden Developments' planning application for the Silk Street scheme anchored by Debenhams and Cineworld.
The statutory six-week public consultation into the application closed in February and the council said the retail assessment is the next step "towards the vision for Macclesfield, which is to be a destination town with a good mix of retail and housing, an attractive cultural offering and a pleasant environment."
No consultant has been appointed yet or deadline set for producing the research report.
Cllr Michael Jones, leader of the council, said: "It is important that this council listens and gives due consideration to the views of Macclesfield's residents and businesses. I have been working with local MP David Rutley to fully understand the needs of the town and to ensure that the vision becomes a reality. It is for this reason that I have now called for this independent assessment.
"I'd like to thank the people and businesses of Macclesfield for their efforts in submitting a total of over 1,600 comments on the Wilson Bowden Macclesfield town centre application.
"We have received some interesting opinions, with most agreeing that change is needed in Macclesfield. On first glance the feedback falls into the following key themes: whether there is a need for this particular scheme; what impact will the new scheme have on the character and appearance of the town; what type of car parking is required in the town now and in future?"
Wilson Bowden Developments submitted plans in March 2012 for a 200,000 sq ft scheme which would feature a new public square, children's recreation area off Exchange Street, 19 high shops, restaurants and a multi-storey car park.
The authors of the independent assessment for the local authority will also analyse all feedback from the public consultation before making a recommendation to the council's planning committee.
The planning decision was due to be taken on 20 March but will now be delayed.
Jones added: "This planning application is too important to rush and get wrong. It is vitally important that we put the best information before members – and get it right for the people of Macclesfield.
"As a council we are committed to growing the economy of Cheshire East to make it a better place to live, work, do business and visit."
Wilson Bowden Developments is advised by Pegasus, Waterman Group, URS, Royal Haskoning, TP Bennett. Letting agents on Silk Street are Cushman & Wakefield and Mason & Partners.