‘For years it wasn’t on the radar…. now homes here are unbelievably popular’

Stockport’s charms are well known to Greater Mancunians. But of late the town has been attracting attention from further afield, with one London newspaper tipping it as one of the best places to live in the UK.

Much of the focus on Stockport’s regeneration looks at what’s happening in the very heart of the town. But one suburb in particular is starting to feel the impact of the centre’s regeneration story.

Reddish is at the far edge of the borough of Stockport, on the border of Tameside and Manchester. While its location – less than five miles from Manchester city centre – once meant it was overlooked by those drawn to sleepier Stockport’s outer suburbs, good transport links, green spaces, relative affordability, and proximity to Levenshulme and the ‘Heatons’ are putting it in the spotlight.

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Developers have labelled the area ‘Manchester’s new commuter capital’, while agents say it’s booming – offering a lower-priced alternative to first-time buyers priced out of the city centre and south Manchester suburbs like Chorlton and Didsbury.

Diane Tooley from the sales and lettings team at Reeds Rains’ Reddish branch says the impact from Stockport’s regeneration programme has been ‘phenomenal’. “It has brought a lot more investors to the area from the south which has also increased the rental market,” she added.

Reddish Vale Country park spans 161 hectares along the River Tame in the heart of Stockport
Reddish Vale Country park spans 161 hectares along the River Tame in the heart of Stockport
(Image: Vincent Cole – Manchester Evening News)

“The rental market has never been as buoyant in this area for a number of years, and equally there are also more first time buyers looking in Reddish. The attraction to Reddish is because of the local schools with ‘Good’ Ofsted reports, there are also good bus and train services to Manchester and beyond as well as excellent motorway links.

“There’s a lot of good local shops close to the popular Heatons with an array of bars and restaurants too. And the Reddish area also has a lot of local history including the Houldsworth and popular Broadstone and Elizabeth Mill, which are mainly converted into apartments.”

According to Rightmove, properties in Reddish had an overall average price of £241,992 over the last year and the majority of sales during that period were for semi-detached properties selling for an average price of £272,629. Meanwhile, terraced properties sold for an average of £197,254 and flats for £160,250.

“It’s all about affordability,” says Martin Elliot, Reddish Area Manager at property agent Philip James, describing the area’s growing attraction to homebuyers. “The change in interest rates has recalibrated buyer’s perceptions in terms of affordability and what follows that is location, so people have ended up purchasing properties that are better suited to them in terms of what they need,” he said.

Reddish borders Heaton Chapel and Brinnington, Denton in Tameside and Gorton and Levenshulme in the City of Manchester
Reddish borders Heaton Chapel and Brinnington, Denton in Tameside and Gorton and Levenshulme in the city of Manchester
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

“Reddish wasn’t really on people’s radars, but increased affordability means that it leads people in that direction and they realise what they can get.

“There’s a good train network, motorway links, it’s a short taxi journey to the Heatons and, while the independent scene may be bigger in Stockport, newer concepts are infiltrating here – so free houses, indie stores and delicatessens – and the older-type of businesses are moving out.”

Houldsworth Square in central Reddish
Houldsworth Square in central Reddish
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

Martin says there has been a 10% increase in house prices in Reddish in the last two years. By comparison, the average UK house prices increased by 6.3% in the first 12 months to January 2023, down from 9.3% in December 2022, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

“It’s very community oriented here in Reddish, ” adds Martin. There was this perception that it’s a bit rough, but many are long-standing residents here and it’s a good place to live.”

‘It fills me with a lot of pride that where I’m from is finally being noticed’

Kelly Gaskill works as a Community Development Worker at Re: Dish, a charity in Reddish
Kelly Gaskill works as a Community Development Worker at Re: Dish, a charity in Reddish
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

Kelly Gaskill, a Community Development Worker at Re: Dish, a charity in Reddish which aims to improve the quality of life for the people living in the area by re-distributing ‘good stuff’ through its foodbank, dementia-friendly café, community events and shop, is glad Stockport and the wider borough are being noticed.

“People are taking a lot of pride in Stockport, and the revamp of the market feels like it’s becoming more of a hub. Finally it’s getting recognition for the money and energy that’s been put into it.”

Kelly recently moved to Hyde but was born and raised in Reddish and hopes that Stockport’s raised profile is also going to have a positive impact on her hometown. “It’s exciting as a resident and someone who works for the community of Reddish and greater Stockport area – it fills me with a lot of pride that where I’m from is finally being noticed.

“I don’t know if the people of Reddish are feeling the impact just yet, and I wouldn’t like to say ‘yes’ from a residents’ point of view, but I think in terms of the work I do, it is. It is highlighting the area, and there is more activity in the centre, which means there’s more networking for us in Reddish, and a lot more of the organisations are working together to access pots of funding that can be shared out.

“We’re in a very diverse group in Reddish, and that can sometimes be a blessing and a curse. In what I do here we don’t quite qualify in being one of the less affluent areas when it comes to funding but we’re not necessarily where the community has as much money to put in as some of Stockport’s more affluent areas.

“We’re right on the border of Gorton but we’re also right on the border of Heaton Moor so it’s a real mixed bag, but I love it because we have so many individuals from so many walks of life and backgrounds.”

One of the downsides though, as Kelly points, is the knock-on effect on house prices. I think like most places we’re seeing an increase in house prices, particularly on the rental side,” she says. “But a lot of the other areas in Stockport are seeing this too – it’s also a knock-on effect from shortage of housing. Then people go private and create more demand and prices go up.”

John, who has been helping his father run Johnny’s Café on the main high street in Reddish for more than 30 years, lives in Cheadle Hulme. He says he’s always enjoyed living in Stockport, but has also noticed the increase in house prices too.

“With prices being high there’s a knock-on effect so it can make it a bit tricky to get on the housing ladder, but it’s always been very buoyant in terms of the market here anyway and it’s better to see it going up then down in my opinion.

‘I think it’s a lovely place to live’

John, who has been helping his father run Johnny’s Cafe on the main high street for more than 30 years lives in Cheadle Hulme but has worked in Reddish for over 30 years
John has worked in Reddish for over 30 years
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

John says he can see why the area has become so desirable though. “I think it’s a lovely place to live, plenty of good schools around Stockport too. It’s also lovely to see the recognition and there’s been a lot of investment in Stockport town centre.

“I think eventually the investment will trickle down too, especially with things like the Metrolink being extended, just a case of how long it takes.”

Over the road, David whose family owns and runs Classic Cakes says he’s seen a lot of improvement in Stockport as a whole in recent years. “Housing is improving and people outside of Manchester are moving to Stockport and there seems to be more of a food and drink culture building.

David says the housing stock can still be a little hit or miss though. “My wife is from Spain and when she moved here we would find that there was no consistency – so one road would be nice but the next would be part of a rough neighbourhood and it’s the same with bars and restaurants.”

And, in terms of improvements to the up-and-coming suburb he still thinks more could be done with regards to the management of crime and parking. “I definitely think burglaries and car crime is still an issue, it’s rife at the minute. I was a victim of a burglary and I don’t think it was chased up enough.

“Parking is also a major issue. It feels like there’s less parking around places like Heatons but if they get more it will encourage more people to come and live in these places too.”

David works for the family business Classic Cakes in the centre of Reddish
David works for the family business Classic Cakes in the centre of Reddish
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

Speaking on the issue of crime in the area, a spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said: “We are actively targeting burglary reports in and around Reddish and the Heatons, with every victim visited by an officer in the initial stage. PCSOs then provide additional support to ensure as much as intelligence and evidence is recovered.

“The dedicated District Neighbourhood Crime Team are having greater success in identifying, targeting and prosecuting burglars in the area, using a variety of force resources and patrols to detect and deter.

“This has been evidenced recently in the team actively focusing on the Station Road area in relation to anti-social behaviour. Officers encourage local communities to engage and report at the regular PACT meetings where issues and concerns can be raised in person directly to ensure they can be dealt with.”

The level of attention on Stockport from outside Greater Manchester is mounting. Recently, naming it best place to live in the North West of England, The Sunday Times said it is brimming with ‘funky independents’, and ‘one of the most exciting towns’, having last year described Stockport as a ‘family-friendly alternative to Manchester’s Northern Quarter’.

Meanwhile, it recent months, Stockport has been named the best place to retire by consumer guide Which?, while the Underbanks was named one of the 25 best places to shop by The Telegraph.

‘The town centre is very vibrant now’

Stockport has been named the best place to live in the North West for 2024 by The Sunday Times
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

In Stockport town centre, people who stop to talk to the M.E.N aren’t surprised about the attention the town – and the borough – is getting. “I’ve always thought it was the best place to live in the North West of England. I have always loved Stockport,” said John Barratt, the man behind the town’s hugely successful Foodie Friday event, which takes place in the market area every last Friday of the month.

As well as running Foodie Friday, John and his wife Rosemary also run The Stockport Music Story, which seeks to highlight the area’s rich connections with the Manchester music scene. They’re especially proud of the town’s cultural contribution to the area.

“The town centre is very vibrant now so you have places like AMP, where Inspiral Carpets played and Bask, where The Lathums played recently. New bars like Thread are popping up too. But for me, what is great is that all the centres and towns like The Heatons have a great night-time economy too – frankly, I’m glad that people have caught up.”

The town’s cultural renaissance comes as the town prepares for its biggest year yet as the Council steams ahead with its ambitious £1bn development and regeneration programme. Just a couple of weeks ago, Stockport’s new transport interchange was unveiled and hailed a “vision of the future” by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

The interchange has a new two-acre public park
The interchange has a new two-acre public park
(Image: PA)

Elsewhere in the town, the Council is busy with projects including Stockroom, a new interactive learning and discovery centre on Merseyway complete with a children’s library, cafe and bistro. Plans are also being submitted for a 60,000 sq ft office building, aimed at attracting new employers and jobs into the town.

Work on Weir Mill continues too, as it undergoes a £60m transformation by Capital & Centric to create more than 250 apartments. Meanwhile, the historic Underbanks, once dubbed the ‘Soho of the North’ continues to develop with new apartments and commercial units created, and the White Lion, one of Greater Manchester’s most historic pubs, is preparing to reopen after being vacant for more than 10 years.

John Barratt is also of the belief that Stockport’s increased profile is also having a positive impact outside of the town centre too.

“Where I live in Woodley we have a great community cafe called Start Point and we’ve got an award-winning chippy, fantastic butchers and greengrocers,” he says. “It’s a centre like this where you build your own communities. I think that’s happening across Stockport.”

‘People are now saying Heaton-Reddish’

Meanwhile, back in Reddish, agents are seeing that it’s not just the success of the town centre that’s having a positive effect on outlying suburbs, but that the success of individual suburbs is having a ‘ripple effect’.

“The big direction of travel is towards Reddish, so those people who were renting in the city centre, or Chorlton and Didsbury are looking to buy in Reddish because rather than paying £1200 a month in rent, they can get a property in Reddish for around the £200,000 mark,” Reddish estate agent Martin Elliott says.

“The market is fairly static in terms of interest so the focus is on properties from £200,000 to £250,000. It’s an unbelievably popular bracket in Reddish right now, and best selling properties are around that price. So while people have the perception that the boom is in the Heatons, it’s actually in Reddish.

“I’m not sure of the term but people are now saying Heaton-Reddish. It just shows what’s happening, it’s that ripple effect. People place their pin down and then understand the area beyond it and what is available.”

Manchester Evening News – Stockport