As the new year approaches, Cheshire East Council is giving an update on its work to deliver major regeneration projects and support each of the borough’s town centres to thrive.
A report will be presented to the council’s economy and growth committee next week outlining the considerable progress made on a number of key strategic regeneration projects for Crewe and Macclesfield, as well as the activities being undertaken across nine other town centres.
Jayne Traverse, Cheshire East Council’s executive director – Place, said: “The last 18 months have been extremely challenging for our town centres and the impacts of the pandemic have been far-reaching.
“But over this period, we have also celebrated some major successes, and more work than ever before is now being undertaken to identify potential projects in a wider range of town centres.
“It seems likely that our town centres will continue to face challenges and so it is important that we continue to think innovatively about how best the council can maximise the impacts of its efforts to support them.”
The report to councillors provides information on the development of bespoke town centre vitality plans for Alsager, Congleton, Handforth, Knutsford, Middlewich, Nantwich, Poynton, Sandbach and Wilmslow.
The plans will help Cheshire East Council and town councils to work together to identify how individual town centres can be best supported to adapt to the changes and challenges posed by a shift in people’s shopping habits.
Across all 11 town centres, the council recently launched the winter phase of its Say ‘hi’ to the High Street campaign, encouraging people to support local and shop safely in the build-up to Christmas.
The campaign is running alongside other activity to support town centres and is being funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
The report also details some of the great strides taken with Crewe’s regeneration in 2021, including the granting of approval for phase one of the Royal Arcade scheme – a new bus station and 400-space multi-storey car park – and approval for outline plans for phase two, a leisure-led, mixed-use development.
The Market Hall reopened following its £3m refurbishment, with the venue receiving three award nominations recently, and the council has been allocated up to a total of £37m from two separate government funds, which is earmarked to deliver two separate packages of projects that will support Crewe’s ongoing regeneration.
Work is also progressing on plans to accommodate part of Cheshire’s extensive archives, while the council is now progressing a bid for Crewe to become the location of the national headquarters of new public body Great British Railways.
Jayne Traverse said: “The progression of Crewe’s regeneration has been made possible through successful bids for government funding.
“These bids are competitive, and the town has been successful through demonstrating the economic need for this funding in line with the government’s strict criteria – which is not always possible for the borough’s other centres.
“However, we are committed to supporting the health of all our town centres and will continue to pursue external funding opportunities for them.”
In Macclesfield, work completed this year includes a £1.6m public realm enhancement scheme for Castle Street, which has helped to encourage further investment in neighbouring private property – with £7m of investment and 50 jobs created by new businesses along Castle Street recently.
A pocket park has been created on the derelict site of a former shop at the approach to Macclesfield Bus Station and working with other partners such as Macclesfield Town Council, a temporary outdoor hospitality area has been created on Market Place.
Meanwhile, the council is progressing a number of pipeline projects – the delivery of which is dependent on capital funding being secured.
There are plans to transform Macclesfield’s indoor and outdoor markets and to carry out a study to test opportunities to unlock sites for development, which could then lead to projects to improve the appearance of key areas, and boost employment and town centre living.
The council is also analysing the responses to a public consultation on draft concept designs for public realm enhancements in Chestergate and Market Place.
Alongside the work featured in the report, progress is being made on creating active travel schemes to encourage cycling, walking and scooting in locations across the borough.
Multiple major infrastructure schemes are also advancing – with the council celebrating the opening of the Congleton link road in April this year.
Ongoing projects include a package of active travel and road improvements in North West Crewe and plans for the dualling of the A500 up to Junction 16, which are well underway and will improve strategic links to Crewe and, in the future, the HS2 hub station.
The much-anticipated £53m Poynton Relief Road – the biggest project currently underway by the council – is progressing well and will relieve Poynton and neighbouring areas of high traffic volumes and congestion and improve strategic road links from Macclesfield to Manchester Airport and the motorway network.
Meanwhile, main construction work on the Middlewich Eastern Bypass is expected to begin late 2023