Letter to councillors: Deliverability concerns

Macclesfield Town Centre Redevelopment: Is the scheme deliverable?

Dear Councillor

Macclesfield is already blighted because discussions about the plans have gone on for so long. If we continue with the current plans, what guarantees do we have that the scheme will be delivered and the uncertainty end?

A May 2012 survey by property consultancy GVA found only a quarter of local authority development schemes are progressing as originally planned. The rest have been delayed (c. 30%), temporarily halted (c.20%), permanently stalled (8%) or are still at the concept/master planning stage (c.13%).  Of the schemes which are progressing – either with an original or delayed start date – almost 75% are anchored by a food store.

The key problems stated by local authorities were development viability (45%), site assembly (28%),

development financing and/or long term funding (27%) and weak occupier demand (23%).

Read the report here .

In Macclesfield, the proposed anchor is not a food store, but a Debenhams department store. The developers Wilson Bowden were quoted in the Manchester Evening News in June 2012 as saying they did not know when they would secure finance for the scheme, with WB retail director Will Robinson, stating: “Eventually we will go to the financial markets to fund the development, but I do not know when. Once we have planning permission, we’ll assess what is the right time.”

Wilson Bowden will not need to rush to build. Once planning permission has been granted, they will have at least three years before they need take any action. Once they do start building, they can delay completion indefinitely, leaving the town a building site. We would be by no means the first town left in that state – the Bradford Hole is a prime example. See  http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/the-northerner/2012/jul/19/bradford-westfield

We ask you to consider whether this scheme is genuinely deliverable in Macclesfield, and what the impact of going ahead with no guarantee of deliverability could be on the town.

 

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