‘Exciting’ five-year vision for transforming Stockport town centre signed off

An ‘exciting’ five-year vision for the ongoing transformation of Stockport town centre has been signed off by local leaders.

The medium term plan for regenerating Town Centre West – also known as the Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC) – was approved at the latest meeting of the region’s combined authority.

The MDC has frequently been hailed as ‘the newest, coolest, greenest’ urban village in Greater Manchester by Stockport council leader Elise Wilson.

Now mayor Andy Burnham and leaders from across the city region have given the go-ahead for the business plan up to 2026.

It rubber-stamps the ambition to build 1,000 new homes in the MDC by 2023, with at least 250 new homes being built every year until 2026.

The project also includes the redevelopment of Stockport station and progressing the business case for bringing Metrolink to the town centre. Mr Burnham has previously said he wants work on begin on extending the line from East Didsbury to the town’s new transport interchange by 2025.

Regeneration of ‘Town Centre West’ has already delivered the Stockport Exchange office development, as well as transforming the old sorting office into a 117-apartment scheme dubbed The Mailbox.

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Planning permission has been granted for the Royal George Village and St Thomas’ Gardens schemes – set to bring more than 500 homes to the town centre – while the redevelopment of Weir Mill and a new transport interchange are also in the pipeline.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham told the meeting it was an exciting piece of work, creating a ‘coherent plan’ rather than ‘throwing a bit of capital at a building or a new facility’.

He said: This is obviously a new way of approaching town centre regeneration.

“Supporting Stockport council, Greater Manchester is bringing what it can to the table, so we do this as a joint endeavour and maximise the support available – but also work to an ambitious masterplan that can deliver a real lasting change for the town.”

View of ‘St Thomas’ Gardens’ from Shaw Heath
(Image: PRP architects for Stockport council)

Stockport council leader Elise Wilson said the MDC was ‘a massive regeneration opportunity’.

She added: “The MDC is going to provide massive regeneration opportunities, but allow us to reshape the town centre in line with our identity and our community values.

“It will utilise those iconic brownfield sites, which in many cases have just sat falling into disrepair, and bring them back into life – and by doing so help protect our green belt and green spaces.

“And it will support the revival of our high street and create jobs and growth, because we do see the effect that is having beyond the MDC itself.”

She continued: “It will help provide a significant number of homes in a variety of types – including developments that will improve the lives of the vulnerable and address the pressures we face around social care.”

How the Royal George Village in Stockport town centre could look
(Image: Investar)

Coun Wilson singled out the 100pc affordable and intergenerational St Thomas Gardens scheme as a ‘really positive’ example of what the MDC could achieve.

And she added that plans to improve transport infrastructure had created ‘a case for Metrolink.

“This was something in the past we have talked about a lot but very little was done,” she said.

The town hall leader said she was ‘incredibly proud’ of the MDC – and agreed with the Mayor that it was of real importance to the national ‘levelling up’ agenda.

“I’m sometimes surprised that, when this government tries to convey the idea of levelling up, that schemes like this are not wheeled out” she said.

“Because the benefits of the MDC will absolutely level-up Stockport and ensure we can see that positive, inclusive growth and new communities – the newest, coolest, greenest neighbourhoods.”

Coun Wilson added: “It will be a key part of what we are here trying to achieve across Greater Manchester. Because, to my mind, a stronger Stockport means a strong city region.”

Leaders agreed to apporve the MDC business plan for May 2021 to March 2026 as well as the action plan between now and March 2022.

The meeting was held on Friday, March 25.

MEN – Stockport