The devil is in the detail

Cheshire East Council has agreed to sell Churchill Way car park, the biggest car park in the town, to the developer Ask Real Estate so it can build a six screen cinema, six restaurants, a cafe pod and a retail unit.

We’re advised that contract negotiations have been vigorous – with the council keen to avoid a repeat of the Silk Street flop. The Macclesfield Express is even confident enough to predict the cinema will open in summer 2018.

There’s just a couple of minor issues to take care of though – the results of Ask’s public consultation – and, of even greater importance – the matter of securing planning approval.

I for one reckon that the loss of 300 car parking spaces should be cause for concern for the Northern Planning Committee – but given that eight of the twelve members will be from out of town it’ll probably sail through.

Curiously, if you try getting planning permission for anything larger than a garden shed in Cheshire – and tell the planners you’ve made no provision for parking – likely as not they’ll politely show you the door. However, it appears that with the offer of a few million quid on the table it’s a case of hello, come in – sit down – have a drink – what can we do to ease the path?

Paul Hodgson, managing director of Eskmuir Securities, has put his money where his mouth is when he said: “It’s a very exciting time in Macclesfield and we are extremely pleased to be playing a significant role in the growth and expansion of the town centre. Our £11m redevelopment of the Grosvenor Centre shows real confidence in the future of Macclesfield.”

Councillor Ainsley Arnold, cabinet member for planning, has said: “To secure the confidence of a prestige developer such as Ask is great news for the town. We have said that we will strive to improve the town centre and this scheme is one of a number of projects the council is pursuing to enhance the town centre and will complement Eskmuir Security’s investment in the Castle Street section of the Grosvenor Centre.”

Ask states it has agreed terms with a cinema company and has discussed a potential ‘anchor tenant’ for the retail scheme.

Remind me, I’ve forgotten the name of the previous developers who’s scheme(s hit the skids when the promised anchor tenants failed to materialise.

And, remember – weren’t they promising more car parking spaces than the redevelopment would swallow up?

The Wilson Bowden Macclesfield redevelopment scheme has ceased to be, expired and gone to meet its maker, its bereft of life, its metabolic processes are now ‘istory! It’s off the twig! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!!*


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