I was a young man the first time I went to Northwich.

I had been given rough directions to the town centre location I was heading for but it was actually quite difficult to give me a precise route because of the absence of landmarks.

The reason for this, my new boss had explained, was because Northwich town centre was built ‘back to front’.

At the time, I didn’t understand what he meant. But then it all became clear.

It might have been fashionable once but who thought it was a good idea to build a town centre facing inwards with all the service areas (complete with bins) facing out to the world?

Weaver Square was looking tired and past its best even then and nothing has happened to improve it in the intervening years.

So it was with a certain degree of delight that I read the news on the Guardian website that there are plans in place to give the area a significant facelift.

So what can we expect given the issues we still have with Barons Quay?

Apparently, a good deal of thought has gone into the scheme with small shops and business units that will complement Barons Quay rather than compete with it.

Those units will have ‘flexible’ rent to ‘encourage traders and start-ups’.

The masterplan also features two zones of housing development, up to four-storeys high in places with the potential to deliver 160 homes including apartments, duplexes, town houses or work-live spaces.

Architects have also focused on a new food hall, in the style of Altrincham Market or the Northern Quarter’s Mackie Mayor in Manchester– shared seating surrounded by small food outlets.

A partially-covered public square would face onto Chesterway, to ‘provide a sense of arrival at Northwich’ and also become a space for public events such as Christmas celebrations, markets, and live music.

Wow. A sense of arrival in Northwich. That’s a better prospect than my first experience of the town.

I know this is something of a rare occurrence for me but I completely agree with Cheshire West and Chester Council’s cabinet member for economic development and infrastructure, Cllr Brian Clarke, who said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a really special showcase area for our town. Weaver Square, with its many vacant units and poor architectural quality is letting the town down and these exciting plans will provide a bright new future for this area of the town.”

I really hope he’s right.

I particularly like the plans to have housing developments as part of the scheme. Let’s hope that can bring a more lively and energetic vibe to the town.

Sadly, it looks like the plans haven’t found favour with everyone with some people posting their opposition on the Guardian’s website.

Take for example ArnoldR2. He (or she) took to the internet to write: “Unbelievable that CWAC wants to mess about in retailing again after the mess they have made in Barren Quay.

“There is also not a word about how much the development will cost or where the money will come from bearing in mind that there is a £65 million outstanding loan on BQ and it costs us 250 grand every month to keep virtually empty. What are they smoking in Chester?”

And JonnyP520 chipped in with the suggestion: “Demolish Weaver Square and replace it with gardens.”

But I personally prefer the musings of Andy Priestley who wrote: “More fantastic news for Northwich residents after the Cheshire FA announcement.

“Lots to look forward to for us positive people and plenty for the doomers and gloomers to moan about. A win win for everybody!

“Well done CWAC!!”

And well said Andy.

By The Fly in the Ointment