Late on Tuesday afternoon a statement was quietly slipped out by Cheshire East Council, confirming that the latest proposals to regenerate Macclesfield town centre had collapsed, as the Council’s private sector partner, Ask, had decided not to go ahead with a cinema and leisure-led development on Macclesfield’s Churchill Way, citing “ongoing challenges in the food and beverage sector”.
There have now been two failed attempts to regenerate Macclesfield town centre by Cheshire East Council, neither of which have progressed much beyond sets of architects’ drawings and reams of glossy brochures.
Nick Mannion, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield West & Ivy said, ‘This is bitterly disappointing news. Many of us suspected the proposals were in trouble, as building work was due to start this autumn. The silence for several weeks around the project, led to rumours swirling around that it was in trouble. We are now back to square one, with a tired and dated town centre public realm and too many empty shops, with local businesses that had pinned their hopes on the scheme bitterly disappointed. NOW will the Council listen to local residents and businesses rather than shiny suited outside consultants? Surely we know what we want from our town centre!’
Laura Jeuda, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield South said, ‘Although this is disappointing it’s not entirely unexpected. Just when are Cheshire East Council going to listen to the residents of Macclesfield?. What the Town needs is independent shops not reliant on big business and the vagaries of the stock market. Cheshire East Council need to do more to encourage the local entrepreneurial skills which exist in the town. A start would be to work to fill the empty shops by reducing the business rates or giving new businesses two years free.”
Liz Braithwaite, a town centre resident and Labour community worker in Macclesfield Central, said, ‘My thoughts are that future regeneration plans must involve town centre residents and be sympathetic to their needs, particularly around parking, traffic and air quality. We all want to see a thriving, prosperous town, and fresh thinking is needed to deliver this.’
Steve Carter, Labour Councillor for Hurdsfield said; ‘It was doomed from the start. Everyone can see retail is changing, and what Macclesfield needs is not big developers but small artisan and independent retailers to recreate a market town atmosphere. I am also concerned that Cheshire East capital spend is so low in Macclesfield compared to Congleton and Crewe – this shows that we are a low priority.’
(Published on behalf of the Cheshire East Labour Group)