Strategic Regeneration Framework for Macclesfield Town Centre

Macclesfield has a strong foundation and many strengths - the hugely popular monthly Treacle Market, the biennial Barnaby Festival, independent shops, heritage assets, dynamic businesses and an affluent catchment population.

Despite these advantages there are some aspects of the town which cause concern. The town centre in particular, like numerous others the length and breadth of the country, has struggled to maintain vitality and viability as consumers increasingly engage digitally and spend less in traditional brick and mortar high street stores.

Whilst Macclesfield town centre has not fared as badly as many, we recognise the mismatch between the current town centre offer and the aspirations of local people. We share local residents aspirations to see the town centre reinvigorated.

We remain committed to further diversifying and enhancing Macclesfield’s town centre offer for families and the evening economy and have reviewed options with the aim of developing proposals that reflect Macclesfield’s distinctive characteristics and build on the town’s existing leisure and cultural sectors.

Cheshire East Council’s cabinet approved a new strategic vision for Macclesfield on 8 October 2019.Macclesfield-framework-2019-cover

It follows a public consultation which mapped out a vision for a ‘town that celebrates its quirkiness’.

The framework sets out a vision, strategy and ‘route map’ to support the vitality and viability of the town centre. It identifies seven ‘character areas’ as a focus of regeneration and nine strategic priorities for transforming the town centre as a catalyst for wider regeneration in Macclesfield.

Consultants were appointed by the council to put together the first draft framework. Residents were given the chance to comment on the draft in February and March 2019 and it has since been amended to take people’s comments into consideration. Read a report on the Consultation (PDF, 909KB)

A total of 79 per cent of people who responded agreed with the vision of Macclesfield as a ‘green, creative, connected and social’ town that ‘celebrates its quirkiness’ and is ‘rich in heritage and culture’ and ‘striving for a sustainable future’.

Enhancing the town centre environment was the top priority identified. Cherishing the town’s historic buildings and finding new purposes for its underused assets was the second priority ranked by respondents, followed by growing the town’s leisure, cultural and evening economy.

Meanwhile 90 per cent called on Cheshire East to improve green space in the town, 85 per cent wanted to see better public spaces and 82 per cent called for improved pedestrian links and crossings.

Chestergate and the ‘historic heart’ outside Macclesfield Town Hall were the top priority areas for regeneration, according to respondents, followed in joint second place by the town’s retail core and the area outside the train station.

Councillor Nick Mannion, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for environment and regeneration, said: “This Strategic Regeneration Framework (PDF, 4.1MB) has been developed to give a clear direction for all those who want to help revitalise the town centre. It has been refined to take account of views raised via public consultation and I would like to thank everyone for their comments and for taking part in this valuable process.”

“Unless there is a clear vision, collaborative approach and a firm commitment by all stakeholders – as well as recognition that no proposals will please everyone – progress to regenerate Macclesfield town centre will not succeed.

“Agreeing this strategic regeneration framework is a crucial step towards unlocking the fantastic potential of the town and delivering a town centre that the people of Macclesfield deserve and can really take real pride in.”

The nine key objectives for the town centre, ranked in order of priority by consultation respondents, are:

  • Enhance the town centre environment – making it greener, more distinctive and a celebration of local creativity;
  • Cherish historic buildings and repurpose underutilised assets to diversify our offer;
  • Grow and diversify the leisure, cultural and evening economy – to attract more visitors;
  • Support businesses to create jobs and develop skills;
  • Raise aspirations and change perceptions to help attract investment;
  • Harness distinctiveness and make better use of unique heritage assets;
  • Grow the town centre population – to attract and sustain a diverse community;
  • Make more of connectivity to attract residents, workers and visitors; and
  • Enhance the retail offer – including supporting existing retailers and attracting new.

The character areas of the town centre identified as priorities for regeneration, ranked in priority order by respondents, are:

  • Chestergate and the historic heart;
  • Retail core (equal second);
  • Station gateway (equal second);
  • Sunderland Street and the Silk Quarter;
  • Churchill Way boulevard; and
  • Jordangate east and west.

The next steps, approved by cabinet, are to develop detailed designs for new public realm work, prioritising Chestergate and the historic heart, as well as strategies for town centre movement, parking, and Macclesfield markets. The Delivery Plan (PDF, 1.2MB) provides robust advice to support the delivery of the SRF .

The report also asks officers to consider options for the ‘transformative redevelopment’ of the station gateway area – liaising with interested parties to identify opportunities.

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