Town centre businesses vote in favour of a Stockport BID
Just last month the town centre gave a resounding yes to the introduction of a business improvement district (BID) at the heart of Stockport and captured the mood of an ambitious town on the up.
The mobilisation of nearly 200 (193) businesses in a ballot to decide on whether the BID could go ahead was a victory for the Vision Stockport group – with the support of Stockport Council – who battled hard to present the concept and win confidence in it.
With 125 town centre companies or nearly 65% in favour of creating a Stockport BID, the scheme – number 252 UK-wide and working well in other towns and cities – will unlock almost £2.5m of additional funding over a five-year-period.
Orbit Developments – with its 12 commercial properties in Stockport – was involved in the early days of the campaign for the Stockport BID in the Town Centre – and is a strong supporter.
Tony Jones, Managing Director of Orbit Developments. “The town centre has gathered momentum like never before – and not just from large corporates and local government. Small businesses are backing the BID, and in so doing backing their futures in the town. It’s an exciting time to be building a business in Stockport.”
Councillor Kate Butler, Stockport Council’s Executive Member for Economy and Regeneration, said: “This scheme will really complement all the regeneration work that the Council is doing around the town as part of our Investing in Stockport programme.”
From April next year £480,000 will be available to spend on projects during the following 12 months that the businesses themselves have indicated as priorities, bringing vitality and viability to the centre.
Vitality is already shining through according to Javed Ashraf, Managing Director of Reactive Recruit – a growing professional services business in Orbit’s Beckwith House on Wellington Road. He can see the town changing through his window.
He commented: “A quick glance out of our Wellington Road office provides a daily reminder of the progress this great town is making.
“We can actually see real headway on the £multi-million Redrock project, whilst further up the road the Stockport Exchange development is barely recognisable from before.
He continued: “We are already seeing the knock-on benefits of this. There is a wider choice of local suppliers, a range of new client companies to recruit for, a better choice of staff for ourselves and, at long last, some really nice places to eat and take our clients to.”
In 2016 alone Stockport has seen the arrival of a host of new bars and restaurants including Remedy Bar, St Petersgate Tap and Where The Light Gets In run by Samuel Buckley. Buckley has worked in Michelin-starred restaurant Juniper and L’Enclume with Simon Rogan.
Vegan restaurant The Allotment has also opened its doors close to the marketplace and is taking the town by storm.
To compliment the growing evening economy, a number of new hotels are due to open in the town centre in late 2016/early 2017. Heading up the improved accommodation offers are Travelodge and the Holiday Inn Express brands.
The 86-room Travelodge hotel will be housed in Orbit Development’s flagship property Regent House on Heaton Lane and includes a bar/café.
In the second phase of developments at Stockport Exchange, the new Holiday Inn Express has taken shape, together with a new 50,000 sq ft office with ground floor retail, and new public realm.
General improvements to the road layout and work on new public realm outside the station are also nearing completion. An improved taxi rank is now open, with a new drop-off area and public space due to open in December. Work is currently underway to create an attractive pedestrianised gateway outside the station.
The overall improvements and talk of change have refreshed demand for office space as Rhys Owen, Orbit’s Leasing Surveyor for the town centre explained.
“Letting performance has been strong in the last two years. We let over 64,000 sq ft of office space in Stockport throughout 2015, compared to an annual market average of 44,000 sq ft. In fact, the market only did around half of that during 2015.
“So far this year we have already let 60,000 square feet and with deals in the pipeline we are confident we can surpass the 2015 figure, making it back to back record years for Orbit.”
Capita Travel and Events is one such business contributing to the market buoyancy. The UK’s leading provider of business travel, meetings and event services has recently relocated its regional customer contact centre in Stockport, moving it closer to the town centre.
Capita Travel and Events is now located in Orbit’s Regent House totalling over 18,500 sq ft, taking up the whole of the 5th and 6th floors.
Rhys again: “Capita Travel and Event’s move into Regent House, together with the space Travelodge has taken, plus the successful letting of a further four floors of smaller suites means Regent is now over 90% full.”
Mike Woodhouse, Head of Facilities/SH&E, Capita Travel and Events, said “We want to offer the best possible working environment for employees as it supports our aim to be an employer of choice in the area. It makes the move a good one for us. The office space is modern and gives us the flexibility we need for comfort and practicality and it’s located close to transport links so it’s easy for employees to get to. With easy access to Stockport city centre – and a great range of food, entertainment and leisure offers coming at Redrock – employees will be well served during their spare time too.”
The Light Cinema and restaurants Pizza Express, Zizzi and Gourmet Burger Kitchen have all signed up to the new Redrock leisure development, making the scheme 60% pre-let and on schedule to open in 2017.
But there are even more household names choosing Stockport as a place to base their regional offices. Leading retailer and manufacturer of PVCu replacement windows and doors for the homeowner replacement market, Safestyle UK plc, has also recently moved its Stockport call centre into an Orbit property.
The company has taken circa 2000 sq ft in Grosvenor House just off Wellington Road South.
Merrick Nind, Branch Manager for the new call centre, said the space offer was a big improvement on previous offices. “The building has been refurbished including improved high speed broadband and has met all our needs.”
In addition, Creative Support have taken the whole of Wellington House, who provide housing and assistance for people with mental health needs and learning disabilities. They are now occupying 18,139 sq feet.
Tony Jones again: “We are committed to a programme of improvements in line with wider town centre investments to make sure our commercial space meets the requirements of our customers and compliments the massively enhanced town centre experience that will soon be on offer.”
Javed Ashraf concluded: “When we made the choice to launch a new division of Strive called Reactive Recruit from Stockport two years ago eyebrows were definitely raised. However we have had no regrets at all.
“Compared to the all-round offer and growth potential of Stockport, there are very few places that can compete in the North-West. We are eagerly anticipating being at the heart of all of the new developments.”