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Town leaders share views on Barracks Mill appeal

A developer has won its appeal to allow the new development on the derelict site in Macclesfield

proposed retail park at Barracks Mill in Macclesfield

Plans for a £13 million retail park on the former Barracks Mill site have been given the green light after a public inquiry.

Applicant Cedar Invest challenged Cheshire East Council planning committee’s decision to refuse the application last autumn.

This means the developer now has permission to build four large shops on site on Black Lane which could become home to big name national brands including Range, Dunelm and Sports Direct.

Planning inspector Matthew Birkinshaw, who oversaw the planning inquiry in July, said he allowed the appeal but would introduce conditions to protect the ‘vitality and viability of Macclesfield Town Centre’ by limiting the total amount of retail floorspace and restricting the type and amount of goods that could be sold from the site.

The scheme has divided opinion among both shoppers and business leaders in the town.

Ward councillor Steve Carter argued the development would bring jobs and get rid of a dangerous building which has been unused since fires in 2004 and 2013.

But objectors Macclesfield Town Council and Eskmuir Securities Limited, which owns the Grosvenor Shopping Centre, argued it will divert trade from the town centre.

Macclesfield MP David Rutley also warned it could adversely harm the £20m town centre cinema scheme.

The scheme even divided Cheshire East Council with the Regeneration team fearing it could wreck its plans to make the ailing town centre a day and night destination, and planning officers claiming the proposal would bring new jobs and investment to a key gateway into Macclesfield.

 

Reacting to the decision, Councillor Ainsley Arnold, cabinet member for housing and planning, said: “The Barracks Mill site has been vacant and subject to vandalism and anti-social behaviour for too long.

“Whilst we welcome the fact that it will be brought back into use, we regret the decision made by the planning inspector that it will be for retail use.

“Our concerns with the Barracks Mill scheme have always been around the potential impact this scheme may have on Macclesfield town centre.

“However, it is good to note that the inspector has recognised this and imposed restrictions on the type and amount of goods that can be sold from the site.”

proposed retail park at Barracks Mill in Macclesfield

 

Town leaders and Express readers have mixed views on the appeal decision.

Macclesfield MP David Rutley said: “Now the decision has been made, it is more important than ever that Cheshire East Council makes tangible progress with its recently announced plans to regenerate the town centre. Plans to deliver the new leisure-led scheme and cinema, invest in public spaces and promote our unique heritage must be taken forward with a greater sense of urgency by the council to ensure that any retail development at the Barracks Mill site does not detract from creating the thriving and distinctive town centre that local residents expect and deserve.”

Coun Liz Durham, who represents Broken Cross and Upton ward, said: “I’m saddened that a decision made by Cheshire East genuinely to benefit and secure the future of Macclesfield, has been ignored and overturned by people who have no connection with, or an understanding of the plans and vision we have for town.”

Coun Beverley Dooley, who represents Macclesfield central ward, said: “I am very concerned about the impact this decision will have on an already fragile High Street here in Macclesfield, plus the impact it could have on any future inward investment. People’s livelihoods are potentially at stake.”

Coun Nick Mannion, who represents Macclesfield West and Ivy ward, said: “With a significant proportion of the shop premises in Macclesfield currently empty this development will do nothing to help the regeneration of the town centre. Instead, it will potentially draw even more visitor footfall away from the town’s historic centre and add to the already heavily congested Silk Road. Yet another example of planning dogma ignoring local circumstances and priorities.”

 

Some readers expressed positive views about the decision on the Express Facebook page. Brenda Clarke said: “About time something done with this hazardous eyesore!”

Val Pownall said: “If we get The Range and Dunelm I’m all for it. I’ve not noticed anything in the town centre even remotely resembling such stores so I can’t see how it can negatively affect the town centre shopping. The only stores anything like [them]are up on Lyme Green. No doubt people complained when they were built too.”

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