A local leader has slammed the decision to hold a public inquiry into a controversial development in another town.
Plans for a £13 million scheme to build four large shops on the former Barracks Mill site on Black Lane were made the subject of a planning inquiry after being refused by Cheshire East Council’s planning committee.
But despite the local interest in the scheme - which has divided opinion among both shoppers and business leaders in the town - the week long summit took place at Congleton Town Hall, not in Macclesfield.
Coun Beverley Dooley, representing Macclesfield Central ward for Cheshire East Council, has complained to council leader Rachel Bailey over the move. She said: “I spent most of the week there, alongside Coun Gareth Jones, from Macclesfield Town Council. The only other speaker was Keith Smith from Macclesfield Civic Society. These plans are really important. I was really disappointed with the lack of interest from the public. I have asked Rachel Bailey why is that inquiry being held in Congleton. It should have been held in Macc. It’s Macc issue.”
The applicant, Cedar Invest, challenged the council planning committee’s decision to refuse the application last autumn.
Objectors Macclesfield Town Council, Macclesfield Civic Society and Eskmuir Securities Limited, which owns the Grosvenor Shopping Centre, all argue it will divert trade from the town centre.
Macclesfield MP David Rutley even warned it could adversely harm the town centre cinema scheme.
But a report published by planning officers said the proposal brings ‘economic benefits through new jobs, investment in the area and by bringing a vacant brownfield site into viable use on one of the key gateways to Macclesfield’.
Ward councillor Steve Carter previously argued the development will bring jobs and get rid of a dangerous building.
Coun Dooley said the inquiry was finely balanced, adding: “I can’t tell which way it will swing.
“Both sides have fought their own corner hard.
“There were weakness exposed for both sides.
“What I do know is that the inspector has acted very professionally and reassured me that he will take into account everything that has been said in reaching his decision.”
If the appeal is granted the units could be taken up by big name national brands including Range, Dunelm and Sports Direct.
Cheshire East Council did not respond to a request for a comment.
The inquiry was due to end on Tuesday, July 18.
The inspector will now consider the evidence before returning a decision.