THE FUTURE of a Cheadle town centre has been debated at length by representatives from two councils. Cheadle Town Council's meeting on Monday (February 18) included a presentation by the leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council Councillor Sybil Ralphs regarding SMDC's Growth Strategy for Cheadle, as well as the district council's bid to the Government for a share of the £675 million Future High Street Fund.
Cllr Ralphs told town councillors that she is in the process of putting in a bid for the high street fund, to be used in Cheadle, and that she was asking for town councillors’ comments and any questions in relation to the bid.
She said: “I want to help with an on-going programme of how we can increase and encourage additional footfall in our towns.
“My question to you, as town council members, could you please debate this and let me know your recommendations.”
The presentation, which also included information being relayed by council officers Di Larner and Sarah Porru, also included SMDC’s view that “Cheadle needs more housing in order to gain more facilities.”
Mr Larner said: “There is a lack of housing growth and as a consequence an ageing population.
“And there is a shift to online retailing. All these factors lead to low investment in high streets.
“The number of houses in Cheadle is substantially less to the other towns in the Staffordshire Moorlands. There are also smaller families per household, therefore there is less spent on shopping per household.
“Cheadle has more empty shops than the other two towns. All this makes Cheadle, in the view of the Cabinet, the prime candidate for this fund in the Staffordshire Moorlands.”
Ms Porru said: “We will be looking at the heritage of Cheadle, and also the empty retail spaces.
“We will be looking at opportunities that are not necessarily retail led, and looking at employment opportunities.
“We need to get the expression of interest in by March 22. If successful then we will be invited to go to the stage two phase of the application, which is where we look at what people want.”
However, some town council members expressed concern that ‘many plans’ had been spoken of to improve Cheadle in the past, but that none had come to fruition.
Cllr Ron Locker said: “If only I could tell you how many presentations I have been to in my time as councillor, and none have moved forward.
“In 2014 we had a big presentation but that has not moved on one little bit.
“Yes, we had some work done on shop fronts and we have got some good looking shops but unfortunately we have not got the people in them.”
SMDC’s claim that more housing is needed in the town, also raised concerns among other Cheadle Town Council members.
Cllr Richard Alcock said: “What are you going to do about the road system with all these extra houses. It’s no use building all these houses with no facilities.”
A number of other issues which were raised and debated during Cllr Ralph’s visit to Cheadle Town Council included: the lack of loading bays in the High Street, the wish of the town council to not have on-street parking bays as is being put forward by Staffordshire County Council, the currently derelict Lightwood care home, over-loaded road system, concerns over a second local plan being drawn up, a lack of bungalows in the town, the location of the council run market, and the currently derelict Royal Oak.
After much debate, Cllr Ralphs said of SMDC’s bid for the Future High Street Fund: “This is the start of what we can build. Forget what’s happened in the past, let’s start now. We are wanting to work with you.
“I want you to debate what you would like to see in your town. We are here tonight to ask what you want.”
Town councillor Ian Whitehouse said: “Cheadle Town Council needs to be involved, and we also want traders in our high street to be involved.
“We want to be at the forefront of it. It needs to be people who live here and work here and know their town.”
Cheadle Town Mayor thanked Cllr Ralphs and the two SMDC officers for attending Monday’s meeting. He said: “Thank you for coming along. We will take on board what has been said.”
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