Marple, Cheshire

Key points
• The area’s development potential can be exploited
• A neighbourhood plan might be the way to steer development to achieve the community’s aims
• Careful planning is needed of design, public space and movement in the town centre

A Placecheck in Marple, a small town in Greater Manchester, was carried out in 2012 against the background of a proposal for a supermarket on an out-of-town site. The council believes that there is a better site, in the town centre rather than outside it. What the Placecheck established in the minds of the Placecheckers was that it was not just a question of comparing the relative merits of two different sites.

To make the most of a new retail development in the town centre, there needed to be careful consideration of town centre design, public space and movement. A wide range of issues relating to the success of the high street would have to considered, along with the question of how best the new supermarket could be integrated into Marple’s economic and social life.

One option that the Placecheckers were keen to investigate was whether a neighbourhood plan could be the best way of achieving this. A neighbourhood plan, they believed, might make the most of the potential for development by ensuring it was shaped by a set of planning policies drawn up by the local community itself.

What do we like?
• Good range of independent shops
• Community spirit
• Independent cinema/theatre
• Two train stations
• Archaeological sites
• Good transport links
• Sense of community

What don’t we like?
• The proposal for an out-of-town supermarket
• Too few people know about Marple
• The high street is a no-go area at night
• No signage to promote the town centre to the boat owners

What do we need to work on?
• We need to get the people who shop outside Marple to shop in the town.
• Bring a high-quality retailer into the town centre.
• Look at the precinct with a fresh eye.
• Look at the potential of a supermarket development in the town centre.
• Consider potential benefits of section 106 money.
• Individual retail units as part of a wider scheme. Open up shops from Market street into Trinity Street.
• Road is a mental barrier. A shared space could unite the space.
• Consider pedestrianising Stockport Road.
• Open up feeder roads to allow better traffic flow.
• A comprehensive and coordinated signage strategy is needed, including tourist and visitor information.
• Improve signage particularly so that people passing through the canal know what Marple has to offer.
• Consider the need for a tourist information centre or kiosk, perhaps paid for by future section 106 money.