Stockport is set for a huge makeover following a £900m programme of investment to fund major projects across the town.

STOCKPORT IS a great place for business and over 12,000 diverse businesses have chosen to locate here. From start-ups to emerging enterprises; Sky operate UK-wide from the town centre and global brands such as Adidas and the MAN Group have their UK and European HQs in the suburbs.

The town is surrounded by an eclectic offering of business parks, some tipping their hat to the town’s heritage while park and lakeside settings nod towards the neighbouring Peak District.

Yet Stockport has in the past been regarded as the poor relation to Manchester.

But, Stockport is changing. Stockport Council are at the heart of the changes, changes that needed to be made.

The next 18 months to two years will see the town centre change beyond recognition as multi-million-pound projects take shape. By 2018, we should have a great retail offering, two new hotels, a business district and a town centre that people want to come to and can move around.

But that’s not all. Over the next five to seven years around £900m will be ploughed into projects across Stockport, bringing 5,000 jobs and over 1,000 new homes.

The Stockport Exchange scheme, an investment from the council and partners of £145m, will include a 115-bed Holiday Inn Express hotel, a five-storey office building with ground floor retail space, and a new public space outside Stockport train station providing a new gateway to the town centre. Stockport has always lacked hotel beds, but that is about to change as Travelodge is also opening, this time in Regent House on Heaton Lane with a further 88 beds.

Stockport Council investing in Stockport

Investing in Stockport

Over £73m has been invested in the Stockport Town Centre Access package and work on the new £42m Transport Interchange is due to begin in 2016, with the aim of making life better for workers, shoppers and commuters. The final phase of the Town Centre Access plan will be completed by 2020.

The schemes will see the bus station replaced by the new Interchange that will be Metrolink-ready and will link buses and trains. Road widening around the M60 and A6 will ease congestion. Pedestrians and cyclists will also see improvements, especially around Redrock and Stockport Exchange.

Councillor Patrick McAuley, Executive Member for Thriving Economy at Stockport Council, said:

“Our Investing in Stockport programme will see Stockport town centre transformed over the next five years as around £900m is invested into ambitious projects, by ourselves and partners.

“Each of these projects will see Stockport building on its town’s strengths so that it can continue to grow in the future.

“Work has already begun and great progress is being made including the development of new town centre homes at Hopes Carr and Covent Garden and the start of construction at Stockport Exchange visit the website.

“Transport improvements works aimed at making it easier for everyone to travel in Stockport have also begun.

“Other investments will include Redrock Stockport, the new Aurora Stockport industrial development, and initiatives to boost the Old Town area of the town centre.

But that’s not all. Over the next five to seven years around £900m will be ploughed into projects across Stockport, bringing 5,000 jobs and over 1,000 new homes.

Redrock development, next to Debenhams and alongside the M60, will see an investment of an estimated £45m bringing a 320-space car park, restaurants and cafes, new shops, and a 10-screen Light Cinema.

Over at the station, Stockport Exchange, with the council in partnership with Muse Developments and Eric Wright Construction, will result in a new commercial district.

The Stockport Exchange scheme, an investment from the council and partners of £145m, will include a 115-bed Holiday Inn Express hotel, a five-storey office building with ground floor retail space, and a new public space outside Stockport train station providing a new gateway to the town centre. Stockport has always lacked hotel beds, but that is about to change as Travelodge is also opening, this time in Regent House on Heaton Lane with a further 88 beds.

New car parking facility at Stockport Exchange

New car parking facility at Stockport Exchange

Over £73m has been invested in the Stockport Town Centre Access package and work on the new £42m Transport Interchange is due to begin in 2016, with the aim of making life better for workers, shoppers and commuters. The final phase of the Town Centre Access plan will be completed by 2020.

The schemes will see the bus station replaced by the new Interchange that will be Metrolink-ready and will link buses and trains. Road widening around the M60 and A6 will ease congestion. Pedestrians and cyclists will also see improvements, especially around Redrock and Stockport Exchange.

Councillor Patrick McAuley, Executive Member for Thriving Economy at Stockport Council, said:

“Our Investing in Stockport programme will see Stockport town centre transformed over the next five years as around £900m is invested into ambitious projects, by ourselves and partners.

“Each of these projects will see Stockport building on its town’s strengths so that it can continue to grow in the future.

“Work has already begun and great progress is being made including the development of new town centre homes at Hopes Carr and Covent Garden and the start of construction at Stockport Exchange.

“Transport improvements works aimed at making it easier for everyone to travel in Stockport have also begun.

“Other investments will include Redrock Stockport, the new Aurora Stockport industrial development, and initiatives to boost the Old Town area of the town centre.

“There is little doubt that these developments will unlock even more of Stockport’s potential, creating an exciting environment in which businesses can continue to thrive.”

Just over a year ago, Chancellor George Osborne announced the country’s need for a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ to redress the North-South economic imbalance and to attract investment into northern cities and towns.

Manchester is favourite to be the seat of power over Liverpool, Leeds or Newcastle, but will towns like Stockport – and Rochdale, Oldham, Bury etc – benefit?

Eamonn Boylan, chief executive of Stockport Council, told the Stockport Economic Breakfast:

“Stockport is one of the best located places in the north west.

“We have got to make Stockport the logical destination for businesses – we need to think where the jobs are and where we build the houses.

“There is a lot of excitement around the developments in the town centre; if the town centre is good enough then people will come here.

“There is a lot of talk about the Northern Powerhouse – there is a lot of rhetoric but also a lot of momentum. There is potential here but we need to keep working.”

To complement the new builds, another £7m will be spent within the Old Town, Underbanks and market areas.

The scheme hopes to ‘create a vibrant hub for independent retailers and the creative industries’ with the money being spent up to 2019.

The redevelopments are already being backed up by more businesses moving to Stockport.

Orbit Developments, Stockport’s largest commercial landlord, is seeing space taken at a record rate across Stockport.

Just five years ago, they let 17,000 sq ft of office space.

In 2015 that rocketed to 56,000 sq ft – more than the whole of Stockport five years ago – and they hope to smash the 100,000 sq ft barrier soon.

Orbit Managing Director Tony Jones told the Stockport Economic Breakfast:

“A couple of years ago, we had a decision to make about Stockport.

“Do we continue to invest or do we sell? It was a difficult decision to make because Stockport wasn’t in a great place at the time; but the investment we’ve made over the last couple of years has now put us in a place where we’re ahead where we need to be.

“There are occupiers coming in, which is great, and the other thing is that businesses are starting to move here, even from Manchester city centre, and from the boroughs back into the town centre. It’s great for the town.

“That promotes more activity in the town centre and leads to more footfall for the cafes and shops, which has been needed.

“Stockport offers a value alternative to Manchester but you can also hop on a train and be in the centre of Manchester in 10 to 12 minutes.

“Whenever I buy a building I take my team out for lunch to see what is nearby.

“Stockport didn’t have that offering – hopefully in 18 months’ time it will.”

It is also hoped to designate Stockport a Business Improvement District – or BID.

A BID area raises additional finances that allows businesses in the BID area to decide how their money is spent to promote the area, trade and tourism.

Altrincham – another town in Greater Manchester that has seen its high street suffer over the past few years
– voted by 2:1 in a ballot in the Autumn of 2015 for BID status.

It is hoped a successful BID for Stockport will reduce the number of empty shops, showcase the area’s tourist attractions and allow business to link up with ‘one voice’.

It is envisaged that a feasibility process will result in a successful ballot.

Alison Bowcott-McGrath, Managing Director of Bo- Concepts and part of the BID team, said: “As an ambassador

for the rejuvenation of our high streets, I am very excited to be part of the BID team.

“This project will create a platform to bring renewed life to Stockport town centre.

“The next few months will be spent consulting with all the businesses within the BID area; their feedback will be collated and form part of a business plan to take BID forward following a successful ballot.”

Out of the town centre, there are only two units left to let at S:Park next to the M60 while the Aurora Stockport industrial park in Cheadle Heath will have more than 150,000 sq ft to let in five buildings with car parking for 380 vehicles.

And the Manchester Airport Relief Road should be open by Autumn 2017, linking Stockport with Manchester Airport, providing greater connections with Airport City.

So Stockport is changing! Improving access, its business offering, its leisure facility and its night-time economy. With easy access to the motorway network and the UK’s 3rd largest airport on the doorstep, connectivity has ever been better – a great place to live, work and enjoy!