Weaver Square regeneration

The consultation area

​The area surrounding the Weaver Square shopping centre has been in decline for some years and, as a major focal point for our town, it needs addressing.

The area included in this consultation covers from Apple Market Street to Crum Hill but there is the potential to include up to Meadow Street.

Regeneration of this area would provide increased footfall with better linkages around the town centre and would be designed not to compete with the high street or the Baron's Quay development.  

The Weaver Square of today

​The Weaver Square shopping centre and its environs have suffered in recent years from a change in shopping patterns and a decline in footfall. This has led to low occupancy of the market hall and the shopping centre both of which have struggled to attract new tenants. This decline needs to be arrested with a comprehensive overhaul of this whole area.

The Council acquired the shopping centre in 2014 as part of the town centre wide regeneration strategy, with a view to reviving this whole area to breathe new life into Weaver Square and the market.

The new masterplan, which has evolved for this area, addresses these issues and takes on board the feedback from an extensive pre-design consultation process.

The consultation process so far

​Back in 2016, a comprehensive 'blank paper' consultation was undertaken to review the area and ask local people their views on its regeneration.

This consultation was delivered through a series of workshops, presentations and a programme of social media which specifically addressed key groups such as local businesses and market traders, public sector partners and community representatives as well as seeking feedback from residents and other interested parties.

The consultation addressed issues such as the accessibility of the area and how it links with the rest if the town; what activities and uses should be included to draw people; the comfort of the area in terms of both safety and security and the addition of quality public realm features; and also how Weaver Square could be made more social in terms of encouraging community interaction.

The masterplan which emerged from that consultation reflects the feedback from all the sessions and from an online survey which received nearly 1,000 responses.

The masterplan overview

​The masterplan reflects the feedback from the consultation and the findings of recent studies undertaken by the Council into such areas as the retail and residential markets. Many aspects of the masterplan are based on feedback from the community. So, for example, you told us:

"Visitors to the area had no sense of arrival in Northwich and that Weaver Square gave a bad impression of the town."

The masterplan therefore includes a new public square with high quality public realm to create a welcoming aspect to the town from Chester Way.

"Community space and a flexible outdoor venue for live music, cultural or public events figured highly in the feedback."

We've included a tensile structure which will provide cover if required but also keep the large open space you asked for.

"Security and feeling safe can sometimes be an issue in this area particularly at night."

The masterplan includes open, well-lit areas as well as leisure and residential uses to increase evening footfall.

"Better public services, improved library and community and youth centres all appeared in the feedback."

The public services hub included in the masterplan could house these and much more.

"Market and independent traders are important to stop Northwich becoming a 'clone town'."Market and independent traders are important to stop Northwich becoming a 'clone town'."

This masterplan includes lots of flexible and lower rent retail options to encourage traders and start-ups.

The following image shows the various components in suggested locations but the plan is subject to change throughout this consultation and the planning process. As with any development, the plan is also subject to economic viability and the availability of end users.

Residential

​Residential accommodation will form a key plank of the regeneration of the Weaver Square area for a number of reasons.

Attracting more people to live in this location will deliver substantial benefits to the area and the town as a whole. Increasing the population of Northwich, brings additional spend on local goods and services (the ONS calculates an average of £554 spend/week/household) and generates additional Council Tax income for Cheshire West and Chester Council to invest locally. Additional people also support the provision of better and increased local services.

By including housing in the masterplan area, it also helps meet the housing targets placed on the local authority by central government which, in turn, helps protect greenbelt from development.

More people living in the area will drive footfall for the new locale, the High Street and Barons Quay and make the area safer by animating the streets at night time while supporting a better evening economy.

The masterplan shows two zones of residential development up to four-storeys high which could deliver in the region of 160 units. These could include apartments, duplexes, town houses or work live spaces with ground floor workshops or offices.

Retail

​The retail mix for the new Weaver Square area needs to be carefully managed to be attractive to local people and avoid creating competition for either the high street or the Baron's Quay development.

Therefore, the masterplan includes just a small amount of proposed retail units which will serve local needs for residents of the new housing. These will be largely smaller retail units suitable for the likes of florists, dry cleaners and small convenience stores. A small food hub is also proposed.

Retail units will be available on the ground floor of the residential development and traders in the food hub could also have the option of a street-facing outlet complete with outdoor seating area. This will meet requests for more outdoor cafés and restaurants.

Public realm

​High quality public realm, including planting and hard landscaping, will be key to creating a sense of place in the new Weaver Square development.



The new public square, facing onto Chester Way, will provide a sense of arrival at Northwich while also creating permeability and linkages through from the leisure centre, via the high street to Baron's Quay.

The square will also provide a focal point for public and cultural events such as Christmas lights switch on, live music, street theatre or Remembrance Day commemorations.

Allowing for the English weather there is also a covered area with tensile structure and pop-up coffee unit adjacent to a new children's play area designed to be in keeping with the new, attractive surroundings.

There are plans for food outlets to cluster around a smaller courtyard away from the road and the main square providing a more intimate dining area.

Food hub/hall

​There was a lot of feedback about the need to create a better evening atmosphere in this area and in Northwich as a whole. The architects who designed this masterplan looked at a way of supporting this ambition while creating a destination 'eatery' for local people, further encouraging night time footfall and animating the area.

The emerging food hall concept is similar to successful models such as Altrincham market and Manchester's popular Mackie Mayor where a shared eating space is surrounded by small food outlets. The position of the food hall at Northwich could allow units to serve food and drink from twin-aspect units with inside and outside serving areas.

The hall would be designed with top-quality, flexible units which could accommodate existing local businesses and to support entrepreneurial food and drink outlets, such as micro-breweries, with lower cost units. There is also the potential to support pop-up food business in shared spaces within the food hall.

Public services hub

​The potential public services hub presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a new public services facility for local people. The building would be purpose-built to accommodate the precise needs of its occupiers who could be a range of public services.

This popular concept allows public services to co-locate in order to benefit from shared facilities and increased footfall. The services which could be located in this hub would each need to consult with their own user groups about potential re-location and what services that would enable.

The new building would be fully accessible with excellent transport routes and dedicated car parking for users and would offer flexible space which could be repurposed for a variety of uses.

Markets

​The consultation showed us that Northwich's independent traders and markets are valued but that people felt the market hall was dated and no longer fit for purpose.

The masterplan therefore offers a number of options for traders. The open, public square and nearby tensile structure present a space for pop-up markets on certain days while units within the new food hall could be an option for food and beverage operators.

For more established traders or start-ups the masterplan includes temporary units for rent or contemporary, low-cost, container-style options. For those businesses ready to make the move to more permanent space, retail units are available on the ground floor of the residential accommodation.

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