Rhys Owen, Leasing Director, Orbit Developments, shares his thoughts on how Stockport town centre needs to link together.
When it comes to marketing our properties, I like to eat, sleep and breathe an area to fully understand what it has to offer and with that comes a regular amble around the many corners of the town centre.
On a recent wander with colleagues we started off at the newly developed Stockport Exchange.
Whilst the changes around the train station have been well received, it was noted how the route from the train station down to the neighbouring bus station was very unwelcoming, taking the shine off the changes around the station approach.
We know there is a £40m redevelopment plan for the bus station and this will bring improvements – new shops, cafes and amenities – to the terminal.
However, it needs to be recognised that improving areas in ‘silos’ and not thinking about the connecting journeys will still leave a poor impression in visitors’ minds.
Another area showing signs of this silo thinking is Stockport Old Town.
Despite exciting changes bubbling under the surface, the hotly debated Produce Hall in the Marketplace doesn’t show signs of any upcoming changes, and whilst Underbanks and lower Hillgate have some quality independent retailers they aren’t grouped together, just interspersed with boarded up shops, which left me feeling frustrated.
Again, instead of thinking you’ve discovered the ‘Northern Quarter’ of Stockport, you’re left a bit disheartened by the disappointing journey in between each store.
It’s been said many times before, but we need to work on linking Stockport together and ensuring our visitors leave Stockport after having a positive experience.
We have all the pieces of the jigsaw, but they need to be put together in the right way.