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Wednesday 26 January 2011

Council seals landmark £2.75m Royal Mail site deal


Cheshire East Council has bought the landmark former Royal Mail site in Crewe for £2.75m.

The 4.5-acre Weston Road site became vacant when Royal Mail relocated its sorting offices to Stoke and Warrington.

The site is seen as a prime spot for a landmark development as part of an ambitious plan to redevelop Crewe Rail station – identified as a key project in delivering the wider Crewe ‘vision’ to revitalise the town and wider region.

Over the past year, the council has worked with its partners and the wider business community to identify what they believe needs to be done to ‘unlock’ the huge potential of the town and surrounding area and turn it into a leading player in Britain’s 21st century economy. This vision is called ‘All Change for Crewe’.

Cheshire East Council Leader Wesley Fitzgerald said: “Last year we set our clear ambition for the future of Crewe, through All Change for Crewe. This is tangible evidence of our commitment.

“This acquisition is part of our wider vision to grow and develop a strong and sustainable Cheshire East economy, which will improve people’s life opportunities and enhance the environment in which they live.”

The Weston Road site comprises a 4,517sq metre mainly single-storey Royal Mail Centre building with adjacent parking and the 7,948sq metre, part two-storey, part three-storey Royal Mail delivery offices, as well as an extensive yard which serviced both offices.

The move is the latest in a series of major regeneration projects undertaken by the Council across Cheshire East – including the recently-completed £52m Alderley Edge Bypass, the £3.5m Poynton village improvement scheme and ambitious plans for the regeneration of Macclesfield.

Councillor Jamie Macrae, Cabinet member with responsibility for prosperity, said: “The need to acquire this site to deliver a new ‘rail gateway’ for Crewe, and a potential transport interchange for the wider region with increased parking provision, has been a key ambition for Crewe over many years. Cheshire East Council has now become the catalyst for that project.

“Our vision for a new rail gateway includes improved passenger facilities, a high-quality concourse, improved parking and traffic arrangements and a landmark building at this important location. 

“This is a long-term commitment and we are realistic that, in the current funding climate, we won’t be able to deliver this project immediately. We will be working with private sector partners and public bodies over coming months and years to bring it to fruition.

“This is another example of our commitment to be an excellent Council that works with others to deliver for Cheshire East.

“This is the largest site acquisition that the Council has made to date but it is the type of acquisition that large local authorities such as ours make regularly to deliver strategic regeneration priorities.

“We are developing proposals for short-term uses that may be suitable for the site while we develop our detailed proposals, together with our strategic partners, for the long-term regeneration of the station.”

The site was marketed by agents King Sturge, on behalf of Royal Mail Estates.

Crewe ward Councillor Roy Cartlidge said: “I’m very pleased that the site has been secured and it bodes well for the future and getting a station worthy of the status of Crewe and for the wider area as well.”

Chris Gibb, Virgin Trains' chief operating officer, said: “This is a potentially pivotal step in the plans to really develop Crewe station and the surrounding area. We have seen Crewe become a key part of our network in recent years and we want to be involved with further exciting plans to regenerate Crewe, which is now just 90 minutes from London.”

A spokesman for Royal Mail Estates said: “Royal Mail Estates is delighted to have concluded terms with Cheshire East Council on this property to enable the regeneration and onward development of this part of Crewe. The transaction represents a good outcome for Royal Mail in enabling the modernisation of its operation whilst facilitating new and exciting transformation in Crewe.”

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