Town centre public realm works
Work on the Castle Street public realm enhancement scheme in Macclesfield town centre has begun (April 2021).
The scheme will see footways widened and resurfaced with natural stone – creating scope for cafés and restaurants to have outdoor seating – granite cobblestone-style paving in the road, new street furniture and improved lighting.
The approved designs (PDF, 714KB) should transform the street.
It is expected to take around six months to complete the works, which are being fully funded by the council, and it is hoped it will encourage further investment in neighbouring private property, such as Craven House.
Work had been due to get underway on the scheme in May 2020 but, because of the COVID-19 outbreak, had to be paused.
Due to low temperatures and poor weather, which can impact on build quality and cause costly delays, the scheme could also not easily have been progressed through the winter lockdown.
During the construction phase, contractors will work with businesses on Castle Street to ensure their needs are taken into account and that public access to all businesses is maintained for the duration of the works.
The commissioning of the Castle Street scheme followed the council’s approval of the Macclesfield town centre strategic regeneration framework, which sets out its vision for the town centre as a place which celebrates its quirkiness and provides the development sector with the confidence and certainty needed to bring forward investment, jobs and economic growth.
A unique feature of the works will be the laying of bespoke kerbstones incorporating extracts from the poem ‘A Love Letter To Macc’.
This evocative and personal piece of community writing was created as a project for the town’s Barnaby Festival in 2016. It was produced by Jacqui Wood, artistic director of community arts organisation Arc, and compiled from words written by Macclesfield residents to celebrate everything they love about the town.
The wording selected for inclusion reads:
A Love Letter to Macc:
Drawn to you I fell in love straight away
With the proud landscape and culture of a silk town.
You were soon in my heart with your creative edge, passionate people and cobbled Streets nestling in the hills.
Here we've flourished, and cried, and grown, and lost.
And throughout it all, there's been you, constant: stone, and hills, and rain,
And brilliant, unexpected sun.
How do public realm improvements help to regenerate the town centre
High quality public realm, particularly in urban centres, can both help to increase town centre footfall, can help to draw in new residents and can help to sway decisions on business locations and investment.
Macclesfield town centre, like others across the country, is facing challenges as so many people turn to online services and retailing and out-of-town shopping destinations. We recognise that town centres need to adapt to remain vital and viable and we are committed to the revitalisation of Macclesfield town centre in a way that captures its heritage, creativity and innovation.
The public realm enhancement scheme will transform a tired looking key town centre street, with the focus to be on the pedestrian, rather than the vehicle. In improving items such as narrowing the carriageway, widening the pavements and reducing street clutter, it naturally allows for the possibility of increasing alfresco activity and vibrancy to the area.
Castle Street improvements
The pedestrian/visitor experience on Castle Street is currently poor, but the width of the highway offers significant scope to enhance that experience – and to include opportunities for potential alfresco activity. Additionally, there has been a number of long-term vacancies on Castle Street so there is significant scope for public investment to stimulate interest and private investment in this location.
The work will take approximately 6 months to complete starting on 6 April 2021.
Updates regarding progress of the scheme will be posted on this project page.
Work had been due to get underway in May 2020 but, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, had to be paused.
Due to low temperatures and poor weather, which can impact on build quality and cause costly delays, the scheme could not easily have been progressed through the winter lockdown without risk of incurring significant additional costs.
With the changing retail/town centre environment post COVID, hospitality may play a more important role and opening up the pavements for the possibility of alfresco increases the desirability for potential food and beverage investors to locate. Whilst there are currently only two areas with a dining offer on Castle Street, we are planning for the longer term. Castle Street offers one of the few opportunities within Macclesfield for a south facing wider pavement area. There are opportunities for further food and drink outlets for example in the former post office and former Cheshire Building Society premises.
Our plans for the rest of Macclesfield town centre
The Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy and the Macclesfield Town Centre Strategic Regeneration Framework suggests that the council will look to maximise opportunities for improvement and regeneration in central Macclesfield including through improvements to the public realm.
In 2016, Cabinet approved capital funding for transformational public realm enhancements in the town centre and Castle Street was subsequently chosen as the area of focus.
As a result of this scheme, all market stalls have been relocated to Market Place in the historic centre of the town.
The council is now developing concept designs for potential further phases of public realm enhancements in the town centre and will pursue opportunities for funding to bring these forward.
Churchill Way Car Park during the works
We are closing a corner on the north eastern side of Churchill Way car park as this area will need to be used as a compound for the storage of equipment, materials and staff facilities for the Castle Street regeneration scheme.
Please be assured that the rest of the car park will be open for use by residents and visitors to the town – this equates to 220 spaces still being able to be used, as will the nearby Grosvenor Centre Car Park and Duke Street Car Park, which generally operate at less than capacity. Grosvenor Centre Car Park is also at the level of the central retail area.