Cheshire West and Chester Council is starting its search for a design team to take forward plans to transform Northwich's Baron's Quay into a 300,000 sq ft retail and leisure quarter.
The team of surveyors, architects and developers will be responsible for developing a detailed scheme for planning consent and identifying potential occupiers.
A brief is due to be published next week through the Office of Government Commerce Buying Solutions.
Baron's Quay – which is being led jointly by the council and Weaver Valley Partnership – aims to transform a neglected 25-acre site between the town centre and the River Weaver.
A revised development framework was adopted by the council in July after it ended a pre-recession agreement with developer Wilson Bowden.
The new plans were devised with the help of architects Broadway Malyan, project manager Fraser Blair Associates, and engineer Curtins Consulting.
It includes 205,000 sq ft of non-food retail including the potential for a 50,000 sq ft department store anchor as well as space for restaurants, a cinema, a bowling alley and three new squares. The council says the development could create up to 1,500 jobs.
Councillor Herbert Manley, executive member for regeneration, said: "Appointing a design team will allow us to maintain this momentum and ensure that the community and regeneration benefits of the development framework are delivered for the people of Northwich.
"It will also pave the way to appoint a delivery partner to secure the delivery of the Barons Quay scheme to act as a regeneration springboard for the whole of the town centre."
An outline planning application for the Baron's Quay scheme is expected to be submitted autumn 2012, with a decision expected in 2013.