Defiant traders to fight buy-out plan
DEVELOPERS are facing a legal battle to buy up land to make way for a £90m town centre regeneration scheme.
Businesses and landowners have refused to sell their properties and are set to take their fight to a public inquiry.
The Silk Street scheme – which includes a Debenhams department store and Cineworld cinema alongside 19 other retail units, a 718-space multistorey car park and new town square – got planning approval in June 2013.
But CheshireEast Council and development partner Wilson Bowden failed to agree the sale of all properties and land within the area needed to build it.
The authority then launched a compulsory purchase order (CPO), a legal process which forces residents or businesses to sell up.
But the owners of three businesses – Treats cafe and The Entertainment Centre on Great King Street and Secondtek on Churchill Way – are refusing to budge.
Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s and Himor ( Retail) Limited, which own parts of the Exchange Street Car Park, which would form part of the new town square, also object to the CPO order.
Meanwhile, Macclesfield Flower Club, a user of the Senior Citizens’ Hall on Duke Street which is set to be demolished as part of the development, and another party, named as David Evans, have challenged the order.
They will all have their say at a public inquiry which starts on April 21.
The hearing, which is expected to last four days, will be overseen by a planning inspector.
The inspector will then make recommendations to the Government, which has the final say on whether Cheshire East Council can force landowners to sell up so it can build the 200,000 sq ft Silk Street development.
Cheshire East Council and Wilson Bowden say the scheme is a once-in-alifetime chance to rescue the town centre from economic decline.
They argue it could boost spending in Macclesfield by more than £40 million and create 1,300 new jobs.
The partners are confident the CPO will succeed and vowed to continue the battle if the CPO failed.
Will Robinson, development director for Wilson Bowden, said: “The CPO process is an important part of the delivery of the Silk Street scheme.
“We have not considered the possibility of the CPO not being confirmed. However, both the council and ourselves have been committed to the required regeneration of Macclesfield town centre for many years and we would remain committed to finding a solution.”
But opponents of the plan, Wake Up Macclesfield, claim the plans would flood Macclesfield with national chains to the detriment of the town’s smaller, independent shops and businesses.
Beverley Moore, from the group, believes the inquiry threatens the future of the development. She said: “This is a real David and Goliath battle. While CPOs rarely fail and the chance of objectors getting the whole thing stopped are slim, it is a possibility. “It could happen.” A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We have raised a number of issues and look forward to these being heard as part of the public inquiry.”
The CPO covers the site bounded by Great King Street andExchange Street to the north; Churchill Way and Wardle Street to the south; Mill Street, Duke Street and Park Lane to the east; and Churchill Way to the west.
It is believed around 90 properties are affected by the development.
Even if the Government approves the CPO, objectors could challenge the decision in the High Court.
If the CPO fails, the council could call for a Judicial Review.
The inquiry will take place at Oakleigh House (Macclesfield Masonic Hall), 1 Riseley Street, Macclesfield, on April 21 starting at 10am.
●» An artist’s impression of the £90 million plans to redevelop Macclesfield town centre