A grim start to 2019

The first days of 2019 bring dismal news for Macclesfield residents and any shopper/visitors that are left – two more stores have hit the dust – and Mill Street is beginning to look like a refugee camp.

Don Millers has closed its shop in the Grosvenor Centre

Over thirty years ago I wrote in Macclesfield Community News that I believed the town’s future lay not in following the emerging redevelopment route but by investing and exploiting what it already had – some lovely old buildings, an incredible history and some wonderful surrounding scenery.

I suggested that the increasing number of out-of town-retail developments could only serve to damage the then thriving independent retailers of towns like Macclesfield – and that eventually the only shoppers remaining would be the elderly, less mobile and less affluent.

I even ventured that Macclesfield town hall shouldn’t be extended at the expense of losing our weekly market – Macclesfield Borough Council’s administration should have moved to the newly vacant Infirmary Hospital site. Of course the town’s planners thought different – the Infirmary was sold to Sainsbury’s and the rest is history.

The success of Treacle Market should lay to rest any lingering beliefs they may still hold that markets are not what people want – said to me at the time by the local planners. Town planners – now there’s a misnomer if ever there was one.

No one could have foreseen that that the fledgling internet would have such a massive impact.

The perfume shop in the Grosvenor Centre – another retail casualty

However, on a recent visit to the Lake District and Keswick in particular – I found that most of the small independents appeared to be thriving – and even in the depths of winter the town was packed and buzzing with activity.

Keswick must have been a town planners and retail developers nightmare. No doubt Keswick residents had to fight numerous attempts to rip down their buildings, combine adjoining shops and bring the town into the 20th then 21st century.

Thankfully the efforts of the planners and developers were thwarted – and Keswick survives and thrives – as does Ludlow, where the same happened.

National retailers pile in to a thriving town, then leave just as quickly when there’s a downturn. Local independents plough on.

Sadly, there are very few small independents left in the town now, the nationals are closing their doors and walking away – and Macclesfield is going downhill at an alarming rate.

This was New Look. Is it now the sign of things to come for Macclesfield?

Happy new year!


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