Team appointed to Macclesfield town centre vision

A strategic regeneration of Macclesfield has moved forward with the appointment of a professional team of Cushman & Wakefield, Open, and WSP, which will draw up a vision for the town centre by the end of this year.

The team will be joined by Cathy Parker from the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University as an independent expert who will advise on engagement with the town’s local stakeholders.

Cheshire East identified the need for a five-year regeneration strategy for Macclesfield around 12 months ago with a report prepared by executive director of place Frank Jordan.

This report suggested expanding and improving public realm, re-purposing under-used buildings, and better promotion of the town’s heritage assets.

Some development plans have come forward in Macclesfield, including by Nick Johnson to create an Altrincham-style market in the town’s Picturedrome; plans were also approved earlier this year for a Lidl superstore. However, this summer, developer Ask pulled out of plans to build a cinema and leisure-led project on Churchill Way, citing “ongoing challenges with the food and beverage sector”.

Workshops with stakeholders from SMEs, creative industries, local employers, young people, and town centre landowners are due to start this month and will run until December. These are to be chaired by Parker and feedback will inform the first stage of the regeneration framework.

In December, a first draft of the consultation will go to local councillors with a full public consultation due to be held in March. A final strategic regeneration framework is expected to be adopted next June.

Cllr Ainsley Arnold, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration said: “As the Chancellor highlighted in his recent Budget statement, all town centres and high streets are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of changing consumer behaviour.

“Macclesfield has many unique advantages and continues to perform well compared with many places – but it is not immune to the difficulties all town centres, up and down the country, are facing. The council is responding to this with a clear vision and strategy, so we can direct our efforts and resources where they will be most effective and have the greatest impact.

“We have secured an experienced and knowledgeable team and I look forward to seeing the output from this work and hearing the views and ideas of the public. This will enable us to be clear about where our priorities should lie in doing what is within our power to help revitalise Macclesfield town centre.”

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Cllr Arnold mustn’t walk through the same Macclesfield town centre as me. It’s absolutely on it’s ars*e and getting worse by the month. With the exception of TK Maxx most of what remains of the well known high street retailers (of which there are only a few) are leaving the town in the next few months. It feels like it’s only a matter of time before M&S follows suit. The outdated model of high business rates and unrealistic rents for what was once but is no longer a high footfall premium location stops SME start up retailers filling the gaps. Tidying up the public realm will be neither use nor ornament in the face of lack of any meaningful retail proposition to attract people in. As for a strategic vision, CEC have shown no such thing, they’ve just bounced from one failed grand plan to another. I’m very sad to say that as a local resident and business owner the centre of Macclesfield is doomed until real fundamental issues that prevent small businesses flourishing is dealt with.

By NickW

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