Policy RET 11: Macclesfield town centre and environs

The council will, in principle, support opportunities for improving and regenerating Macclesfield town centre and environs as defined in Figure 9.2 'Macclesfield town centre and environs character areas' and on the adopted policies map. To achieve this aim, in addition to applying policies relevant to all town centres, the following considerations will also be taken into account in this area:

Public realm

  1. The council will support enhancements to the public realm, particularly where they improve pedestrian experience and connectivity and reduce the dominance of motor vehicles in the town centre. Development proposals that would detract from this aim will not be permitted.
  2. Where proposed new development would generate intensified use of the public realm in the town centre, or where necessary to provide a high quality setting for new development and ensure its positive integration within the urban form, planning obligations may be used to secure the improvement of the town centre public realm. 

Character areas 

  1. Chestergate and Historic Heart: Along Chestergate and within the historic heart of the town centre, development proposals must reinforce and not dilute the traditional character and unique qualities of these areas characterised by independent and niche businesses, boutique retail outlets, café culture, restaurants, bars and alfresco activity. Development that does not respect the fine grain and historic character of these areas will not be permitted. Advertisements, shop fronts, and shutters should be of traditional style, materials and detailing, so as not to diminish the historic character of these localities.
  2. Retail Core: In the retail core, larger format development for main town centre uses will be permitted subject to meeting other policy requirements.
  3. Station Gateway: In the station gateway, development proposals that improve the appearance and amenities of this important gateway will be supported in principle. Subject to meeting other policy requirements, larger format developments will be permitted in this area, including on existing car parks, provided they are not proposed in a piecemeal fashion that undermines the overall character of the gateway area, and adequate alternative town centre parking is retained/provided.
  4. Sunderland Street and Silk Quarter: Opportunities to encourage and develop a quarter with a strong residential element around the Sunderland Street area will be supported in principle, including residential conversions and new build, new uses and facilities complementary to a vibrant mixed use residential quarter, and schemes that enhance the appearance and pedestrian experience of the public realm. Where development adjacent to the River Bollin is proposed, opportunities to open it to public access should be pursued.
  5. Churchill Way Boulevard: Development on sites fronting onto Churchill Way should seek to repair the existing ‘broken’ frontage and must have regard to the nearby heritage assets including Christ Church and its conservation area. Developments should seek to take all opportunities for ‘greening’ this route and providing greater pedestrian priority at key junctions across Churchill Way.
  6. Jordangate West and Jordangate East: In Jordangate West, infill development that creates new employment floorspace will be encouraged. In Jordangate East, redevelopment proposals for residential development will be supported to take advantage of the central location and rural views to the east.

Figure 9.2 Macclesfield town centre and environs character areas

Figure 9.2 Macclesfield town centre and environs character areas

Supporting information

Public realm

9.53  National policy guidance highlights the importance of planning positively for the achievement of high quality and inclusive design for all development, including individual buildings, and public and private spaces.

9.54  The design and quality of the public realm is central to creating successful places, in terms of providing the space for movement, interaction and activity, and providing an appropriate setting for buildings. A high quality, well designed public realm can also serve to promote sustainable transport choices, by encouraging walking and cycling, and facilitating access to public transport hubs and services.

9.55  Given the importance consumers place on the quality of environment when choosing between comparable destinations for retailing and leisure, ensuring a quality public realm in town centres is in the interests of attracting visitors and supporting town centre vitality and viability. This policy should be read alongside the principles set out in Policy RET 9 'Environmental improvements, public realm and design in town centres'.

9.56  LPS Policy IN 2 'Developer contributions' states that developers contributions will be sought to make sure the necessary physical, social, public realm, economic and green infrastructure is in place to deliver development, and that contributions will be used to mitigate the adverse impacts of development (including cumulative impact).

9.57  Central Macclesfield is identified in the LPS as Strategic Location LPS 12 'Central Macclesfield', where the council will look to maximise opportunities for improvement and regeneration including through improvements to the public realm.

9.58  A public realm strategy for Macclesfield town centre was developed in 2007, which identified significant deficiencies in the current town centre public realm. The council wishes to see these addressed in order to boost the attractiveness of the centre to shoppers and other visitors and to support town centre vitality and regeneration ambitions.

9.59  This policy identifies that the council will negotiate with developers on a case-by-case basis to secure an appropriate scale of financial contribution towards the provision or improvement of public realm in the town centre, in line with LPS Policy IN 2 'Developer contributions', where it is justified, applying the relevant legal tests. In those parts of the town centre that are conservation areas, the council may seek to enter into planning obligations with developers to secure improvements to the public realm to make sure the overall impact of development on the area’s character and appearance is positive. In all areas of the town centre, contributions will be sought where proposed development would generate intensified use of the public realm, or where improvement of the public realm is necessary to ensure the development’s satisfactory integration with the urban form.

9.60  In 2017 the council commissioned concept designs for town centre public realm enhancements to identify high level costings for desirable public realm upgrades in the town centre.

9.61  No standard formula for calculating the scale of any public realm contribution that is required has been developed, given that this would vary on a site-specific basis depending on the scale and location of the development. Developers are encouraged to engage with the council at the pre-application stage, in order to determine whether a public realm contribution will be required, and the appropriate scale of any contribution.

9.62  Where a contribution towards the provision or improvement of public realm is secured, it will be important that a contribution towards its future maintenance is also obtained in order to make sure that the infrastructure can be managed to a high standard that ensures its longevity.

9.63  Policy requirements for individual character areas have been developed drawing from the evidence base and recommendations in the Macclesfield Town Centre Strategic Regeneration Framework 2019. This document also shows plots/opportunity sites and gateways/arrival spaces that are in need of improvement. The council will work proactively to realise key development opportunities across the town centre and also important walking and cycling linkages within and around the town centre. This may involve the council assembling land and, where necessary and appropriate, using compulsory purchase powers to do so.

Chestergate and Historic Heart

9.64  These quarters contain significant heritage assets and traditional characters derived from their historic usage. Both are in large part designated conservation areas. The integrity of these areas is fragile and can be eroded by even small scale incremental insensitive changes. It is essential that new development makes a positive contribution to local character and distinctiveness. In particular shop fronts, advertisements and building exteriors should utilise traditional materials, designs and detailing and should respect the narrow plot widths and modest building proportions.

Station Gateway

9.65  Although this area is an important gateway to the town centre and adjacent to a key transport node, it is currently used inefficiently with much land given over to surface car parking. It is desirable to increase the density of land use in this area to encourage as many people as possible to use more sustainable forms of transport. Redevelopment of this area could also significantly enhance perceptions of the town centre. Prospective applicants are encouraged to consider how their proposals will support the guidance and framework set out in the Macclesfield Town Centre Strategic Regeneration Framework.

Sunderland Street and Silk Quarter

9.66  This area has a traditional character with many historic buildings associated with the town’s silk industry. The aspiration for this area is for it to evolve into a vibrant urban mixed use area with converted former industrial buildings providing apartments and workspaces and a mix of uses that breathe life into the locality. It is important that areas of the town centre more peripheral to the retail core adapt to accommodate other appropriate uses such as residential. The area around Sunderland Street is already beginning to develop as a more residential quarter and this policy seeks to encourage and facilitate that incremental change without jeopardising the vibrancy of this locality, which stems from its varied mix of uses.

Churchill Way Boulevard

9.67  Churchill Way forms a primary route through the town centre but currently acts as a barrier between the heart of the town and residential and business areas to the west. A key aspiration for this area is to transform this key route to create a greener ‘boulevard’ to enhance first impressions of the town, improve legibility and wayfinding and reduce car dominance.

Related documents

Policy information


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