For me, the only 'centres' that are at all visually attractive around the area are Hale (altho I'm not a huge fan of the place beyond that), Marple Bridge, Ramsbottom, Prestbury and Knutsford. Going further afield in Cheshire then Nantwich (bar Crew's closeness) Tarporley and Chester, Although looking at that list it probably just means I'm getting older...
What do people want/need apart from somewhere to get your haircut, a few pubs/eateries and perhaps a local co-op?
If you excluded over-priced independent women's clothes retailers from those more affluent towns, there's really not much left.
My question would be what's the 'point' of most town centres?
I'd disagree with the point made earlier about 60's planning blight. It is still ongoing to this day. Altrincham bears witness to that. Complete planning f*ck up from start to finish. Every addition just makes it worse, seemingly by intention. The 'old' pot holed car park (before the flats) on Goose Green was preferable to the dystopia that obtains today.