The latest plans for the redevelopment of the town have left residents, businesses and community groups divided over the scheme.
The Express last week exclusively revealed the latest designs for the estimated £100m Wilson Bowden scheme.
An application for the plan, which includes a new cinema, town square, 19 high street shops and a multi-story car park, was first submitted to the council in April.
However, the council and the developers last week outlined changes to the proposals as a result of the lengthy public consultation.
These include a reduction in height of several key buildings and distinctive new designs for the cinema, multi-storey car park and shops.
CEC said the scheme was vital to turning Macclesfield into a ‘destination’ town to halt its decline.
The changes have been given a cautious welcome by some groups. Keith Smith, chairman of the Macclesfield Civic Society, said: “There are definitely improvements. But we still have reservations about the fundamentals.
“We still think some things are in the wrong place, for instance the cinema and the multi-storey car park.
“We will have to wait for the plans to officially brought forward to scrutinise them properly.”
Mickey Jones, chairman of the Macclesfield Chamber of Guild and Trade and owner of PR Jones jewellers on Chestergate, said: “The new plans are much improved.
“And we do need to do something as we cannot stand still.
“But there are a lot of people on the Guild who may not share that opinion.”
Dane Swindells, from Music Vibe and one of organisers of Loominus festival, said: “I think it looks great.
“If we can bring more people into Macclesfield it will benefit everyone, including the smaller shops. I think the cinema is definitely needed. Younger people aren’t too keen on watching a film at the heritage centre as they want to have something to eat and do things after.
“Plus, I just like the way it looks.”
Debbie Quinn, who runs her own gift business and also helps to organise the monthly Treacle Market, said: “I think it’s an improvement but they could do a lot more. They’re still not listening. Macclesfield is a market town and I think it should stay a market town.
“I don’t think we could sustain a big store like a Debenhams.
“I agree we need a cinema but eight screens is just too big, four would be plenty.”
However, the pressure group set up to campaign against the plans says the changes have made no difference to their view on the situation.
Beverley Moore, who runs her own freelance copy writing business and is spokeswoman for Wake Up Macc, said: “We’re still fighting against the proposals and will carry on doing that until the better end.
“No matter how they change the appearance, it won’t change the fact that the plans are not viable. Market Place and Chestergate should be the focus of the town and these plans will draw people away from there.”
The proposed timetable for the Wilson Bowden scheme is:
- Revised plans to be submitted in the New Year
- Six week consultation period on these to start in January 2013.
- Decision expected to be made at an extraordinary meeting of the council’s Strategic Planning board in March / April 2013
If planning permission is granted:
- Details of the scheme to be finalised and compulsory purchase orders issued April 2013 – Spring 2014
- Multi-Storey car park to open spring 2015
- Scheme would be complete by spring 2016