COUNCILLORS from both sides of the political divide have been reassured that Northwich is a town on the up.

Cheshire West and Chester Council officers used the first Northwich regeneration forum to give positive news about the town's redevelopment.

The meeting, which was held away from the public eye, saw Labour councillors David Armstrong, Brian Clarke and Sam Naylor join Conservatives Mark Stocks, Gaynor Sinar and Helen Weltman to hear the progress of regeneration at Barons Quay and Weaver Square.

CWAC officers spoke of a positive Christmas trading period for Barons Quay's three tenants Asda, Odeon and Wildwood, and claimed that confidential discussions were 'progressing positively' with a number of new businesses for the shopping centre.

Cllr David Armstrong, chairman of the working group and cabinet member for legal and finance, said: "The reports we heard at the first meeting of this group have given me confidence in the direction Northwich is travelling in and I'm pleased that councillors from both main political parties are now helping to shape the way forward.

"We instilled into officers the need to get on with letting the empty units and received assurances that progress, while sometimes bound by confidentiality and appearing slow, is being made.

"Keeping local residents informed is a priority for us but we understand that we need to strike a balance between sharing information at the earliest opportunity and recognising that confidentiality is important in securing potential tenants."

Members of the forum also heard about plans for Weaver Square's regeneration.

Initial scoping work is currently being undertaken as part of proposals which will include new apartments and affordable housing at the old shopping centre.

The plans will also include public areas to improve journeys across town, and could include public sector services.

Cllr Sinar told the Guardian she felt the meeting went 'OK'.

"It's not 100 per cent perfect but there are some good things going through," she said.

"There is a great opportunity for Northwich and we should be making the most of it. We should be singing the town's praises."

CWAC is also set to consider further public consultation on the proposed masterplan for Weaver Square – including options for the future of the market, how Northwich's cultural offer can be improved, and how best to utilise the town's historic buildings.