Cheshire East Council has taken major steps towards realising a bold new scheme to transform Crewe town centre.
The authority has announced it will start the process to appoint a developer to work with it to create a mixed-use town centre development on part or all of the Royal Arcade site.
The Council’s preference is for the site to include leisure attractions, such as a new larger cinema and restaurants.
This follows on from informal discussions with developers over the summer, which has given the Council confidence that there is a strong interest in Crewe from developers and investors.
The Council is also proposing to create a new stakeholder panel with an independent chair – similar to one established for Macclesfield – to play a key role in overseeing redevelopment of the Royal Arcade site as well as other aspects of Crewe town centre regeneration. This will help ensure plans are informed by local knowledge and opinion
Today’s announcements follow the decision of the Council in April to purchase the Royal Arcade site, which includes the bus station and 26 retail units along Queensway and Victoria Street.
This bold move followed years of speculation since plans for the Delamere Place retail and office scheme stalled in 2009.
Council Leader Councillor Michael Jones said of today’s decisions: “The redevelopment of the Royal Arcade site is pivotal for Crewe and it will set a benchmark for future schemes for other town centre sites. It is important that we get this right for the people of Crewe to give them a town centre they can be proud of – and we will.”
This Councillor Don Stockton, Cabinet member in charge of regeneration and assets, said: “We’ve already secured millions of pounds of investment for the town centre through the new Lifestyle Centre and the University Technical College, which will both open in 2016. There is also the prospect of significant investment and growth should Crewe be selected for a new HS2 North West gateway rail hub.
“This is the latest piece in the jigsaw and builds upon strong interest expressed from leisure operators, who share our vision for Crewe. It is our strong belief that we can forge a role for the town centre that is based on it being a vibrant and attractive destination for families to spend quality leisure time together.”
Cllr Stockton added: “We are keen to work with existing occupiers within Royal Arcade and will look at all options including the potential for bringing in a development partner to ensure that any scheme balances viability with our aspirations that this site can act as a significant catalyst and bring even more investment into the town.
“The Council held an extensive consultation with local residents and businesses – called ‘Your Town Your Choice’ – on our regeneration delivery framework, to ensure we’re making the most of our key assets and opportunities in the town centre.
“The responses showed a strong endorsement of both our overall vision and the regeneration objectives of the framework.”
The full results of the public consultation will be published in the next few weeks.
The Royal Arcade site includes Crewe bus station and units on the west side of Queensway and the south side of Victoria Street, which include BHS, Santander and Wetherspoon’s.
The Council has already committed to support several major projects to unlock the potential of Crewe, revitalise the town centre and boost the surrounding local economy.
These include: proposals for a HS2 hub station – which would generate £10bn of investment and 100,000 new jobs along the M6 corridor around south Cheshire and North Staffordshire; the £6m acquisition of the Royal Arcade site; and the completion of the new £15m Crewe Lifestyle Centre for people of all ages.