A ribbon-cutting ceremony has marked the completion of public realm improvements on Castle Street in Macclesfield town centre.
The improvements scheme, part of ongoing investment to transform and regenerate Macclesfield town centre, included widening footways and resurfacing them with natural stone – creating scope for cafés and restaurants to have outdoor seating – using granite cobblestone-style paving in the road and installing new street furniture and improved lighting. The £1.6 million investment into Castle Street was fully funded by Cheshire East Council to help encourage further investment into neighbouring properties, with work already attracting £7 million of investment from new businesses on the road.
Cllr Nick Mannion, chair of Cheshire East Council’s economy and growth committee said:
“This scheme has been much more than just the physical transformation of Castle Street, it has been about shifting the focus to the pedestrian and visitor experience rather than motorists.
“By doing that, we have created a space that encourages people to visit, increases footfall and is somewhere that businesses want to invest and locate to.”
Chris Oakes is director of Huntsmere, a north-west based designer and developer of luxury property. The business is nearing completion of the transformation the former Tax Office on Castle Street into apartments. Mr Oakes said:
“The council’s decision to invest in the public realm in Castle Street encouraged Huntsmere to commit to the purchase and transformation of Craven House, which had been vacant for around eight years.
“The quality of the public realm is not only much improved, but the widening of pavements will enable businesses to create outdoor seating areas – enlivening the street scene, boosting the viability of businesses, and making this a more desirable place to live.
“It complements our own development and supports town centre vitality.”
Ed Kennedy, centre manager at The Grosvenor Centre, added:
“The Grosvenor Centre are delighted that the council has delivered this transformational scheme and with the quality of the end product.
“It has helped Eskmuir, owners of the Grosvenor Centre, in letting the vacant former Cheshire Building Society unit on the corner with Churchill Way and demonstrates how public investment, in the right location, can stimulate growth – helping to create jobs and sustain a vibrant town centre.”
The commissioning of the Castle Street scheme followed Cheshire East Council’s approval of the Macclesfield town centre strategic regeneration framework.
A unique feature of the works is bespoke kerbstones, which incorporate extracts from the poem ‘A Love Letter To Macc’, compiled by Jacqui Wood, artistic director of community arts organisation Arc. This evocative and personal piece was created as a project for the town’s Barnaby Festival in 2016 and compiled from words written by Macclesfield residents to celebrate everything they love about the town.
Macclesfield Town Council’s town centre and regeneration champion, councillor Fiona Wilson, said:
“The improvements to Castle Street are vital for the revitalisation of our town centre and have already resulted in attracting new businesses to Castle Street.
“Independent retail, hospitality, entertainment and in-town living are all key components to help the town and the local economy.”