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Macclesfield: Celebrating 21 Years Of Retail Development Chaos

The Heart of East Cheshire - Chestergate, Macclesfield

Ask Real Estate has pulled out of plans for a 60K SF leisure-led redevelopment in Macclesfield town centre, crowning 21 years of property paralysis for the Cheshire commuter belt town.

Ask will no longer develop the £19M Churchill Way site saying the market for casual leisure and dining is not what it was in 2016.

Cheshire East Council have confirmed they will now look at other options for the car park site, the Macclesfield Express reports.

Ask beat 18 other bidders to win preferred developer status in February 2016, at the height of the cinema-anchored restaurant strip mall boom.

The Ask scheme was a consolation prize after Wilson Bowden pulled out of the much larger — but troubled — £90M Silk Street retail scheme, first launched in 2004. The 200K SF project was to have been anchored by Cineworld cinema and a Debenhams supermarket. 

Wilson Bowden were selected in 2005, and the final version of the planning permission was granted in 2013, but Cheshire East council and the developer ended the partnership in 2015 by mutual consent after Debenhams pulled out.

The sorry tale of redevelopment in Macclesfield dates back to 1997 when Macclesfield Borough Council — since abolished — agreed to promote addtional retail floorspace in the town centre, whose main purpose they declared to be retail.

At the time Manchester surveyors said there was no point developing retail in Macclesfield: Stockport and Wilmslow met most needs, and retail demand in the town was not strong enough. Local campaigners like Bill Grimsey, the Focus DIY and Wickes boss, also had their doubts about viability. Twenty one years, one e-commerce and one leisure spending revolution later, they have been proved right.