For many people the idea of city centre living is a great attraction. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to the smell of artisanal coffee and have first class restaurants, bars and a wealth of independent shops on their doorstep? But imagine a place where you could enjoy an affordable urban vibe, on the edge of the sprawling open space that the Peak District has to offer.

Macclesfield is a strong contender. You heard it here first. If you want a standard high street that looks like any other town centre, feel free to keep looking. But if you crave a fiercely independent town with a thriving art scene and the warmest welcome, Macclesfield might be for you.

Just 22 mins to Manchester Piccadilly and 1 hour 45 mins to London Euston, there are few places that are as well connected for work, or pleasure. Perhaps that’s why some of the biggest names in science and tech have based themselves at nearby Alderley Park or why successful digital media agencies have made their homes in Macc. While Macclesfield can’t always guarantee great weather, Manchester Airport (and the sunnier world beyond) is only 25 mins away – offering all of the convenience but none of the noise of nearby flight path towns.

Turn left out of Macclesfield station and you’ll find yourself on Sunderland Street. An edgy and colourful part of town that’s boasts a host of independent businesses, including yoga studios, boutique breweries, makers and crafters alongside some seriously great cafes, bars and restaurants, such as the Treacle Tap, Spanish Caravan and Snowgoose. For anyone who loves quality and choice when it comes to their chosen tipple, this is where Storm and Bollington Breweries have set up home. It’s haven for discerning beer and ale fans, alongside those simply looking for a place to call their local. Peer up the cobbled side streets that lead off Sunderland Street and you’ll glimpse the green hills and stony paths that will lead you up to Macclesfield Forest – perfect for mountain bikers, nature lovers and your four legged friends. It’s no surprise, then, that a number of new affordable apartments are going to spring up along this road in the next couple of years. Many of these will be aimed at first time buyers – those who crave the vibrancy of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, but without the hefty price tag, and with more flexible ownership options.

Chalk is building 67 new apartments on the site of an old Georgian mill on Park Green at the end of Sunderland Street. The homes are part of a development called Crossings and are due for completion in 2021. Comprising a mix of high-quality one, two- and three-bedroom apartments, the scheme will offer Rent to Buy, Shared Ownership and private rent options featuring contemporary internal and external areas of communal space designed for modern living. For self-confessed city dwellers, this is city centre living in the heart of ‘proper’ town that takes its pleasures seriously. And Macclesfield’s charm is certainly starting to catch on.

In 2019 the team behind Manchester’s Mackie Mayor and Altrincham Market set up their third base in a beautifully renovated cinema. With around eight outstanding independent kitchens – a coffee shop, wine merchant, seafood stall, chocolatier, and craft beer bar – the Picturedrome is an airy and spacious place for young and old, friends and strangers, to meet and eat in stylish comfort. While lockdown brought real challenges to the businesses of Macclesfield, the sense of community spirit has never been stronger. The green shoots of recovery have already sprung up, with each bar, restaurant and shop finding new ways to thrive in a post Covid world. The Picturedrome has developed its own app, Alt.Eats to help hungry foodies to order safely. Plums Kitchen in Macclesfield’s Market Place creates restaurant-quality meals to prepare at home and award-winning artisan bakery, Flour Water Salt, has turned its hand to proper stone-baked pizza and online ordering.

If it’s living, breathing cinema that you crave, forget the multiplex crowds and head to Cinemac – its a lovingly-restored independent picture house in the elegant old Georgian Sunday School. It doesn’t just show art-house movies and the very latest releases, you can also catch the odd sing-along or live stream from world theatre and opera too. Book early at Cinemac and nab the plush sofas from Macclesfield’s own luxury interiors retailer, Arighi Bianchi, and enjoy a drink from the bar or a seriously good coffee from local roaster Kickback Coffee, as the lights go down.

For those looking to escape it all, within 10 minutes of Macclesfield you can be in the heart of the Peak District – one of the UK’s most idyllic locations for walking, trail running, cycling and open water activities. Taking care of your own health and wellbeing is more important than ever before, and what better way to make sure you can take time out to recharge or raise your heart rate than with the countryside on your doorstep?

Above all, Macc is a town of determined and creative businesses and individuals with a growing loyal following and some exciting new developments in the pipeline, along with Cheshire East Council’s town centre regeneration project. That’s got to be a rousing recipe for recovery and a promising place to call home.

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