NORTHWICH is in need of a new captain to guide it through the turbulance of regeneration.

Redevelopment boss Geoff Hope-Terry has announced that he is retiring as chairman of the Weaver Valley Partnership Board after three years in the hot seat.

His tenure comes to an end in March, at a time he describes as a ‘watershed moment’ for Northwich town centre.

“When I joined the board the overwhelming feedback from local people was ‘nothing ever happens in Northwich’,” he said.

“I understand that view.

“The town’s subsidence problems meant there was virtually no development in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

“But we are now beginning to see real and significant change.

“I believe we are at a watershed moment for Northwich.”

The current position is that Hayhurst Quay is being redeveloped, demolition of the former magistrates’ court is imminent and Northwich Memorial Hall will close on March 2 in advance of the new Memorial Court being built, plans for which are being drawn up ready for submission.

A section of Witton Street has also been given a facelift and a planning application for the major redevelopment of Barons Quay is expected to be considered at the end of March.

Speaking about Barons Quay, Geoff said: “That is phenominal progress for what must be one of the biggest – if not the biggest – town centre regeneration projects currently underway in the region.”

The 12-strong Weaver Valley Partnership Board was established in 2010 as the delivery team for Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) and Cheshire East Council to drive the regeneration of mid Cheshire.

Geoff said: “With so many projects now underway, and with a strong board in place, I feel it is the right time to step aside.

“I want to open the way for someone else to come in with fresh ideas, ready for the next chapter of regeneration to begin.”

Plans to regenerate Northwich have proved controversial, with The Northwich Group forming to oppose CWAC’s vision.

Mike Cooksley, spokesman for the group, said: “It remains to be seen if the new developments emerging in the town will be the revitalising catalyst that many think it will and perhaps the new leader of Weaver Valley will be more proactive in seeking to establish a 'whole town plan' that will set the priorities for all the town, including the town centre, for the future and the Northwich Group would wish to meet up with the new chairman at the earliest opportunity.”

• The recruitment drive for the new chairman is expected to be launched next week.