Works to clear the former retail precinct in Northwich for a residential-led masterplan will get under way at the end of the month.
Cheshire West & Chester Council acquired the lease of Weaver Square, which is largely made up of vacant retail units, in 2014 after its previous owner ceased trading in 2012, and brought forward masterplans for the site in 2016 and 2018.
The 2018 masterplan is close to being implemented with site clearance now set to begin. The first phase of works will see 10 redundant retail units and canopy structures knocked down. The site will then be secured with protective hoarding.
The council said this move would “remove significant financial liability in terms of backlog maintenance and business rates, whilst also preparing the site for future development”.
The masterplan for Weaver Square focusses on a residential-led use for the former retail site.
Current proposals centre on two zones of residential development including buildings of up to four storeys in height, which could deliver up to 160 units in total.
A food hall, which the council said would be “similar” to Altrincham Market and Manchester’s Mackie Mayor, is also being considered for the site, and would be targeted at local suppliers, pop-up food suppliers, and microbreweries.
There are also proposals for a public square facing onto Chester Way to provide “a focal point” for events.
While Weaver Square currently supports around 66,000 sq ft of retail, this will be significantly reduced with the council outlining plans for “just a small amount of proposed retail units” at the site, much of which will be situated on the ground floor of the planned residential blocks.
During the demolition of the redundant units, the existing access through Weaver Square will be maintained and all adjacent retail units, including the markets, will remain accessible to the public.
Works are due to begin on Monday 23 September and will run until December this year.
Cheshire West & Chester Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and growth, Cllr Richard Beacham said: “I know people in Northwich will be glad to see things are moving forward at Weaver Square. It has always been the Council’s intention to create something on the site that complements Barons Quay, the high street and the rich history of the town.
“The first stage of the demolition will provide increased visibility for the existing shops already trading in the town centre.
“We are continuing to carefully review the feedback that we received during the consultation and hope to be able to share the outcomes of these discussions with residents over the coming months.”