De­fi­ant traders to fight buy-out plan

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - STU­ART GREER

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

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