Letters to councillors: 59% of units filled

Dear Councillor

Cheshire East’s 26th November press release stated that ’59 per cent of Silk Street’s floor space has already been snapped up by retailers or is under offer.’ This is intended as reassurance that the scheme will be popular with retailers.

Read the press release

However, when Wilson Bowden representatives were questioned at the 23rd November Make it Macclesfield breakfast, the only two names they were able to confirm were Debenhams and Cineworld.

If the term ‘Silk Street’ is being used to refer to all the retail space rather than purely Silk Street itself, amost 30% of the floor space is accounted for by Debenhams alone (6,320 square metres out of 21,370). If the term is being used to refer purely to Silk Street, then the percentage taken up by Debenhams is of course even higher.

If the term Silk Street is being used to refer to all the new space, including the restaurants (2,325 square metres) and cinema (3,255 square metres), then 37% is accounted for by Debenhams and Cineworld together.

Whilst the 59% figure of taken or under offer may be strictly accurate, it is misleading given that it takes only a very few further units to be under offer to reach that total. We are concerned that the council is using statistics in this way in order to promote the development.

It is also important to note that as the anchor store used to attract other retailers, Debenhams will be getting extremely attractive terms from the developers. The terms may also be affected by the fact that Debenhams and Barratt Developments (owners of Wilson Bowden) share a director. It may also be relevant that Debenhams and Cineworld share a director. The offer to other stores will be different and we cannot take the fact that Debenhams has signed up as any sort of guide as to whether other chains will be equally tempted.

Given that the development if built will not open until 2016 at the earliest, it is extremely unlikely that retailers would be signing up now in any number. If you ran a national chain, would you be making decisions for four years ahead, given the economic climate and the rapid pace of change in the retail environment? This uncertainty was confirmed by Steve Irvine – speaking for Cheshire East at the Make it Macclesfield breakfast, he advised that there can be no guarantees regarding take up in a development of this nature.

We ask you to reflect on the facts behind the headline figures and consider seriously the risks involved in going ahead with this development.

Thank you.


This entry was posted in Open emails to councillors. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • RSS
  • Facebook
  • Twitter