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Banks back Winsford Cross upgrade
THE END of a seven-year saga is finally in sight, after the owners of the Winsford Cross Shopping Centre were given financial backing to redevelop the mall.
Officials from Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) flew to Ireland recently to meet with Mar Properties – the company who purchased the shopping centre for £50 million in 2005.
This week, the Guardian can reveal that MAR will submit a preliminary plan for a new-look shopping centre in October.
Noel O’Neil, CWaC’s head of property and regeneration, was among the delegates who visited Ireland.
”The Irish banks are going to allow MAR to come forward and develop a new plan for the centre, which will take about three months,” he said.
“The banks have taken the view that if the council are prepared to work with them, then they’re going to free up some money to allow MAR to bring it to the next stage.
“They’ve been hamstrung by the banking crisis, but the world has moved on. They’ve still got the shackles on, but they’ve been relaxed,” he added.
A £3 million overhaul of the market was shelved when MAR ran into difficulties during the Irish banking crisis.
Residents described the centre as an ‘eyesore’ and a ‘1960s relic’ during consultation for the Neighbourhood Plan – which sets how Winsfordians want their town to develop over the coming years.
Mr O’Neill said the CWaC and Mar were just ‘starting the journey’ towards a new shopping experience in Winsford, but that it was the first step towards long awaited changes.
“Over the next two months MAR will come forward with detailed proposals for the town centre. It will be looking to make much needed investment. It will be something more modern.
“There’s nothing concrete yet but it’s a positive move. Before Christmas we will see the plans emerging that we will hopefully all sign up to.”
Mr O’Neill added that Winsford residents would have a say on the new look centre.
“Residents will have a chance to be involved in the way it might develop. The public will be a major consultee in it,” he said.