THE demolition of a vacant part of Weaver Square Shopping Centre has been given the green light, paving the way for further redevelopment of the town centre.

Vacant units between the indoor market and Chesterway subway will be flattened and hidden behind hoardings, pending a ‘masterplan’ establishing what use the space will be put to.

A planning application had slammed the centre as an eyesore, and Cheshire West and Chester Council officers agreed that demolition should go ahead so long as disruption to neighbouring businesses is kept to a minimum.

Tom Hallett, of Q+A Planning Ltd, explained on behalf of CWAC’s asset management department that efforts to let the units had failed, with ‘little prospect’ of future success for the shopping centre in its current guise.

He wrote: “It is considered that the high historic value of the town centre, formerly the heart of a thriving historic town, has been diminished over time by the clear lack of economic activity around the Weaver Square shopping centre.

"This has resulted in high levels of vacant, underused and poorly maintained buildings. The fabric of the historic core requires future economic activity and a commercial value if it is to survive increasing decline from under use and neglected maintenance.

“The extensive redevelopment works at Barons Quay have instigated a regenerative step change in Northwich, by providing modern retail space, and other uses, adjacent to the historic town centre that are well linked together through its street pattern.

“The impact of the proposals will be clearly beneficial and are much needed in order to capitalise on recent successes and investment within Northwich.

"By replacing low grade and poor quality vacant buildings this will facilitate a clear foundation upon which to build and enhance the town centre’s future economic prosperity.”

CWAC member Cllr Sam Naylor welcomed the news ahead of a consultation set to begin in the coming weeks.

He said: “It’s positive about the demolition, because what we want to do is try and open up the remaining part of Weaver Square to passing traffic along Watling Street.

“This process has got a lifespan of probably four or five years through to completion, but at least this marks the start.

“We have got to get this consultation right. We want to put on the table this blueprint – the result of a smaller previous consultation – that says ‘here are the plans for residential and open space, with pop-up-type shops or offices, and a public sector hub’.

“A consultation will show what the town council thinks of it, what other organisations think, and most importantly what the people of Northwich think of it.”