Cheshire West & Chester has launched a consultation on a proposed masterplan for Weaver Square in Northwich with proposals including replacing much of the existing retail with residential, a food hall, and a public services building.
The 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 has already brought forward one consultation for the site in 2016, working with architect Fletcher Rae. This initial consultation attracted around 1,000 responses.
Following initial feedback, the council and the architect have revealed their masterplan for the site, covering between Apple Market Street to Crum Hill, which is focussed on residential with the amount of retail due to be reduced significantly.
Core to the proposals are two zones of residential development including buildings of up to four storeys in height, which could deliver up to 160 units in total. The mix of homes has yet to be determined but options include apartments, duplexes, and town houses.
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.
These units will be targeted at retailers which complement the residential development including convenience stores, dry cleaners, and florists. There will also be outside-facing units in the food hall to provide outdoor cafes and restaurants.
Also key to the masterplan is a public service hub, following similar models the council is looking to adapt in other areas including Ellesmere Port. This includes bringing council services under one roof in purpose-built accommodation, along with flexible space for a variety of uses.
A separate consultation is likely to be launched depending on which services decided to relocate to the building.
Cabinet member for economic development and infrastructure Cllr Brian Clarke, said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a really special showcase area for our town. I would encourage everyone to get involved and have their say.
“Weaver Square, along with the new Barons Quay development, provides us with a unique opportunity to change Northwich for the better and really boost the town and draw people in from the wider Cheshire community.”
The council’s push towards a regeneration of Weaver Square follows its completion of the £80m Barons Quay project last year. The 225,000 sq ft retail development has struggled to attract tenants but this month secured a deal with fashion retailer H&M to take a 21,500 sq ft unit. However, it still remains 44% vacant with only three new units – Asda, Wildwood, and the Odeon cinema – open to date.
The consultation documents for Weaver Square can be accessed here.