Cheshire East Council has revealed there is huge interest from developers in delivering a leisure-led scheme to spearhead regeneration of Macclesfield town centre.
Less than five months ago, Council Leader Councillor Michael Jones announced plans to offer two alternative sites for sale to see what options the market can deliver for development with leisure facilities at its heart.
The aim of development would be to increase the town’s leisure offer and boost town centre footfall to support existing businesses.
The potential sites identified by the Council are the Duke Street car park and the Churchill Way car park – with a view to releasing one for a leisure-led scheme. The development industry has now responded with gusto.
Cllr Jones announced his intention to make it clear to prospective purchasers that the Council wanted a scheme which delivers on local people’s aspirations for a development which brings significant regeneration benefits and a sympathetic high-quality design – and not simply looking for the highest bid.
Cllr Jones said: “This is fantastic news for Macclesfield. This phenomenal level of interest from developers has come about because we have done a great job marketing the town centre and the £1m we are putting into improving the town centre.
“We have made the development industry very confident that Cheshire East is a place people can do business.”
All the submitted proposals include a cinema and all would see work starting, subject to planning approval, in 2016.
Cllr Jones added: “This is a game changer – to deliver a real destination for families and visitors in the Macclesfield area.
“Five months ago many raised doubts regarding the likely level of interest from the market. Yet the response we have had has been phenomenal – leaving us in no doubt that developers see Macclesfield as a place they want to invest in and Cheshire East as somewhere they want to do business.
“I am absolutely delighted that our instincts to go out to the market at this time have proven to be right and that the development community has responded so positively to our ask for high-quality development, which respond to local aspirations.
“I would like to thank Nick Hynes and the Macclesfield Stakeholder Panel for helping create this confidence and momentum in partnership with the Council.
“We are looking to ensure the momentum created in Macclesfield is now rolled out to Crewe and other parts of the Borough. We need to deliver in Macclesfield, not just because it’s the right thing to do for the north of the Borough but because it will show developers that Cheshire East sticks to what it says it will do.
“Building confidence is key to our commitment as a Council to delivering high quality, sustainable development which will help us unlock opportunities in other areas.
“This is without doubt a good news story – not just for Macclesfield but also for the Borough as a whole. It shows our commitment to working with local communities always to get the very best, high-quality scheme we can, that is right for the area and that meets the aspirations of local residents.”
In March, Cllr Jones was instrumental in drafting in commercial property expert Nick Hynes to lead the new Macclesfield Town Centre Vision Stakeholder Panel to shape the way forward and advise the Council.
Its remit includes investigating options for accelerating the delivery of a leisure scheme for the town centre and getting the views of the local community about their ambitions and aspirations for Macclesfield.
Council regeneration specialist Jo Wise was also appointed as the new project director for Macclesfield town centre regeneration, to co-ordinate and drive the revitalisation of the town.
The Council has also committed £1m in capital funding to support projects to refurbish and revitalise the town centre.
Nick Hynes said today: “This is tremendous news for Macclesfield. I was confident that there would be a keen interest from developers but to get 19 serious and substantial proposals submitted is even better than we had hoped.
“There is growing confidence in the town – and rightly so. Now we need to continue to work in partnership with the Council to ensure there is no let up in the momentum, that local stakeholders can share their views and that we get a scheme that is right for the people of Macclesfield.”