Experts appointed to lead Cheshire town centre vitality plans

Cheshire East Council has appointed a multi-disciplinary team to prepare Town Centre Vitality Plans for nine of the borough’s towns.

Cushman & Wakefield, supported by urban designers Optimised Environments (OPEN) and transport planners Mott Macdonald, has been commissioned by the Council to prepare bespoke Town Centre Vitality Plans for the Key Service Centre (KSC) towns of Alsager; Congleton; Handforth; Knutsford; Middlewich; Nantwich; Poynton; Sandbach; and Wilmslow.

The team will be working collaboratively with the Council and other key stakeholders over the next 18 months to prepare the Vitality Plans. The Plans will provide a sense of direction and identify bespoke initiatives and solutions to support the nine identified town centres, recognising that each centre is distinct, with their own opportunities and challenges.

Work has already begun on gaining a deeper understanding of each of the town centres through site visits, market analysis, strategic document review and engagement with key local stakeholders. Public consultations will take place in the new year on the emerging Draft Vitality Plans and the intervention projects identified to support the vibrancy and viability of each town centre, ensuring that residents and businesses are best placed to support the future success and sustainability of their local town centres.

Cushman & Wakefield is a market leader in town centre regeneration strategies. Caroline Baker, Head of Cushman & Wakefield’s Northern Region and Manchester office, is leading the multi-disciplinary team. Her expertise in the field has been recognised by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) through her appointment as a National Judge for the Great British High Street Awards 2019.

Caroline Baker, Head of Cushman & Wakefield’s Northern Region, commented: “Town centres across the UK are facing unprecedented challenges – significant structural changes have been further impacted by COVID-19. The government has acknowledged the need for intervention through Future High Streets Fund, Town Deals, High Streets Task Force and changes to the planning system. However not all towns have access to these funds and we are delighted to be working with Cheshire East Council, to build upon the work already being undertaken by the Town Council’s and their partners, to determine action plans to support the nine centres to respond to local opportunities and enhance their roles at the heart of their communities.”

Councillor Nick Mannion, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for environment and regeneration, said: “The council recognises the value of thriving town centres which meet the needs and aspirations of the communities they serve. Our local centres enable people to carry out day to day activities close to their homes reducing reliance on cars with associated environmental benefits.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted afresh the vital importance of our local centres. This work will help the Council, and Town Councils, to better understand where opportunities lie for supporting their vitality and viability in recovery and beyond.”