Nick Johnson, the ex-Urban Splash man at the head of Altrincham’s market-led renaissance and Manchester’s Mackie Mayor, has lodged plans for a food hall at Macclesfield’s Picturedrome.
Johnson’s Market Operations vehicle is again teaming up with Manchester architect Buttress, which which it worked on the Mackie Mayor project.
He told Place North West: “Macclesfield seems like a natural next step to us. It’s a fantastic town, it’s a ‘proper’ place, it has real sense of community and it’s undervalued and underperforming at the moment.
“We see the potential of our proposals for The Picturedrome to not only deliver a great new place attractive to a wide range of people but it will also be a catalyst for more profound transformational change in the way our projects have been in Altrincham and on the edge of the Northern Quarter.
“It also happens to be in another fabulous building that we will sensitively restore and return once again back into public use. With our emphasis on independents and regional produce, we think it’s a win-win all round”
The Chestergate site is owned by local businessman Karl Massey, who heads jeweller Prestons and since converting the former cinema space in 2003 has housed a design business and corporate rewards operation there.
Market Operations and Buttress have filed proposals to convert the space into a “market-style deli restaurant and bar” in a scheme that will see a mezzanine floor removed and alterations made to the building’s side extension in order to house space for three external kitchens. The small car park will be converted to an 80-capacity outside seating area.
Buttress’ design and access statement said that the intention is to repurpose the building back to its cinema form, effectively undoing the works brought about by Cottrill’s 2003 conversion and bringing original features back into play. The scheme could include up to 11 independent kitchens and bars surrounding communal dining in the 11,480 sq ft building.
The document said: “As well as providing a building and space that will have wide appeal to both the local community and further afield, it also has the power to have a massive regenerative impact on this fringe location of town, along the entire length of Chestergate to the Town Hall. The type of use for the building, whilst innovative, is well established with the company behind the proposal being responsible for two highly successful previous projects which are now being copied not only around the UK but in Europe and America.
“The regenerative impact of the proposal is also evidenced by the teams work in Altrincham where Market House has been a fundamental driver in nearly all aspects of the towns recent revival. Based on the figures at Altrincham and Mackie Mayor, this proposal for the reopening of The Picturedrome will include approximately 60 fulltime and 80 part-time jobs and begin a regeneration process of Macclesfield’s fringes which will subsequently generate further positions across the area.”
The proposed opening times are for the facility to be open from 8am until 10pm on weekdays, from 8am until 11pm on Saturdays and from 8am until 6pm on Sundays.
Feedback from members of the public has been mixed, with some correspondents effusive in their welcome for the proposals, while Cheshire East’s conservation officer reports no serious issues with the plan.
Market House Altrincham and Mackie Mayor Manchester have been successful, and now claim to feed more than 25,000 people per week between them.
Given the revivifying effect the Market Hall and its subsequent offshoots has had on Altrincham, and Mackie Mayor’s success on the fringe of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, the proposals seem likely to go down well in a town that has seen several retail and leisure schemes fail to progress.
Most recently, Ask Real Estate withdrew from a cinema and restaurants project intended for Churchill Way.
Buttress’s design and access statement concludes: The proposed scheme allows public access back into the landmark Picturedrome building, providing a new use that has relevance to the building’s original public meeting use.
“The location of the site will kickstart the regeneration of Macclesfield town and bring new life, businesses and employment to the more neglected west end of town.”