A vision for the regeneration of Macclesfield town centre has been revealed by the council - with the formation of seven distinct ‘character areas’.
The sectors, shown on a map, include Chestergate and historic heart, retail core, station gateway, Sunderland Street and silk quarter, Churchill Way Boulevard and Jordangate split into west and east.
Following a month’s public consultation this final draft will go before a scrutiny committee on Monday, July 15, then the Cheshire East cabinet for approval later this year.
Called Macclesfield Town Centre Regeneration - Strategic Framework and Future Programme, the draft ranks the seven sectors in terms of priority in the above order.
But the report, which follows work with consultant Cushman Wakefield, sounds a note of caution for the ambitious plan, which aims to develop retail, commercial and residential offerings.
It says: “The consultants are very clear that these should not be viewed as a ‘to do’ list for the council and that the council will simply not be able to deliver these strategic actions without the support of numerous stakeholders.
“The strategic actions should therefore be viewed as a guide to all those wishing to contribute to driving forward the regeneration of the town centre, including public, private, community and voluntary organisations.
“Dependant on other financial commitments, it may not be possible to finance projects from council resources and the council cannot ensure funding from other sources. There are therefore risks around reputation if stakeholders’ expectations are raised.”
Some detail is given in the report about how the seven sectors will be developed.
Chestergate would be for ‘distinctive’ independent businesses with the historic buildings being refurbished. The Market Place would remain the ‘heart’ of the town centre.
The retail core would look to add more food and drink to the mix, use upper floors of buildings as homes, enhance public realm, cycling and pedestrian access as well as redevelop Exchange Street car park.
The station gateway is earmarked for further parking - possibly multi-storey - and a plaza at Waters Green.
Sunderland Street and the silk quarter would have ‘boutique’ retail and night time economy uses with references to the town’s heritage. Traffic could be reduced on Sunderland Street and the River Bollin possibly opened up.
Churchill Way Boulevard is set aside for residential development with greater emphasis on pedestrians rather than cars.
Jordangate - both west and east - would be for parking and employment uses.
Martin Smith, a businessman who has highlighted the need for a specific Macclesfield Neighbourhood Plan (MNP), said: “In the same way a MNP would involve the community, the more inclusive of residents the town centre regeneration process is, the more successful it will be in gaining traction.
“As a refined policy plan, this document shows notable improvement over the broad stroke original, which is welcome.
“Macclesfield now requires good leadership, decision making and the ambition to shape its own future to be recognised. All of which are things our new council has the opportunity to bring to the table and something at this stage, the new document seems to reflect.”
Councillor Nick Mannion, cabinet member for environment and regeneration, says the plans aim to drive forward a prosperous future for Macclesfield without losing sight of its heritage and 'unique character'.
He said: “This strategic regeneration framework seeks to develop a new vision, strategy and ‘way forward’ to identify development opportunities to deliver jobs and economic growth in Macclesfield town centre.
“The aim is to provide developers and investors with the confidence and certainty needed to bring forward schemes and investment to revitalise Macclesfield.
“We all know that town centres and high streets are facing unprecedented challenges – not least from shifts in people’s shopping and leisure habits – but Cheshire East Council is responding to this with a clear vision and strategy."