Cheshire East Council has given an update on the regeneration programme for Crewe town centre – with more than 20 separate projects moving forward.
A report to Cheshire East’s economy and growth committee, ahead of its next meeting on 15 November, outlines key progress made on projects including the council’s Royal Arcade scheme and those supported by funding of up to £37m from the government’s Levelling Up programme via the Future High Streets Fund and Towns Fund.
Councillor Nick Mannion, chair of Cheshire East Council’s economy and growth committee, said: “This is a pivotal time for Crewe town centre. It is faced with wider economic challenges, but it also has huge potential in terms of both recent growth of its population and economy, and as the first northern hub for HS2 services.
“A comprehensive programme of regeneration is already underway, and central to this is providing more reasons to get people into town more often. Towns are not just about retail – they are about a broader offer of leisure, retail, places to live and relaxing spaces.
“This work was started with the Lifestyle Centre and was followed by the Market Hall, and this report demonstrates that our strategy is continuing at a pace.
“Plans have been developed that will support the town centre to thrive and provide the opportunities and facilities that people have told us they want, as well as improve accessibility and connectivity.”
The first phase of the council’s Royal Arcade scheme – a new bus station and multi-storey car park – is moving ahead to the timetable confirmed in spring this year and work has started on the construction of temporary bus stands.
These are expected to be in use early in the new year and will remain in operation until the new bus station and car park open, which is expected to be at the end of 2023.
The multi-storey car park will provide the capacity needed to allow the council to free up existing car parks elsewhere and move forward with five proposed regenerationschemes.
The council continues to work proactively with its development partner on the second phase of the Royal Arcade scheme and expects to share further details in the coming months.
Other key milestones in the regeneration programme include business case approval from government for a package of projects that are overseen by Crewe Town Board and supported through Crewe’s allocation of up to £22.9m from the Towns Fund.
Further details about the projects can be found here.
A separate package of projects is also making progress following the council’s successful £14.1m bid to the government’s Future High Streets Fund.
Projects include a proposed new pedestrian walkway and cycleway between High Street and the Lifestyle Centre – a planning application for which was recently submitted – and the ‘Flag Lane link’ scheme, which will connect Dunwoody Way to Delamere Street via Flag Lane.
Main works on Flag Lane link are due to begin in the new year.
Cllr Mannion added: “Despite the significant external pressures that we are facing, particularly regarding the cost of materials and contractors, which has risen significantlyover the past 18 months, much is still being achieved for Crewe and we continue to work closely with our partners.
“Crewe’s bid to become the home of the Great British Railways headquarters is a great example of this joint work, and we absolutely hope to see the legislation to create GBR moving forward as soon as possible.”
The report to committee also seeks approval to submit a proposal to government towithdraw the Lyceum Powerhouse project from the Towns Fund programme, and requestthat the funding is reallocated across the remaining nine projects.
It follows an independent review carried out by Crewe Town Board with the support of external experts to consider the risks facing Towns Fund projects, particularly in relation to the increasing risk and potential impact of cost inflation.