THE master planning project designed to strengthen the town’s economy and influence planning decisions to make Leek a distinctive place to visit, shop, live and work, continues to move forward.
Leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council Cllr. Sybil Ralphs said ‘Since we asked the public late last year what their views were on how the town centre of Leek should develop, these views have been fed into the master planning process along with many other stakeholders. We have discussed design options with Councillors, chambers of commerce and the public alike’.
‘Since then, and in response to interest from private operators, we have gone out to further test the market. An all important transport study has also been commissioned by Staffordshire County Council on how the town’s roads can be improved to take account of future plans to make Leek more attractive to residents, visitors and businesses. This transport study is especially important given the fact that two food store planning applications were received’.
Cllr. Ralphs continued ‘Of those who have commented on the future of the town centre, some felt the town was fine as it was, while others called for more recreational facilities and a greater variety of shops. Of particular interest has been car parking and the future use of the iconic Foxlowe building overlooking Leek’s Market Place, which was specifically added to this master planning process last year. Suggestions for its use have ranged from an arts centre to leisure and office use’.
‘Proposals around the High Street as well are not mutually exclusive and are included in this overall planning process. I welcome any proposal to enhance the centre of Leek. Our master planning process started last year and is moving ahead, considering all submissions’.
‘I have also been made aware over recent weeks that a group of investors is prepared to invest £8 million in the Foxlowe project here in Leek. An investment of this size is very exciting news for the town and I fully welcome and support this potential investment’.
‘However, without the details of the members of this investor group and the proposed project itself, it is difficult for the Council to become involved as it appears the group suggests it should. When all the details of the proposed project are available, then I would be very happy to consider these and determine the nature, if any, of the Council’s involvement’ she concluded.
The master planning work is being funded by the District Council, regional development agency Advantage West Midlands and the County Council, which have together appointed independent consultants BE Group to help prepare the masterplan.