The recent league success seen by Stockport’s mighty Hatters almost feels like a metaphor for the exciting direction Stockport has been heading in the last few years.
Awareness of the town centre’s changing journey has steadily grown with numerous press pieces picking up the very positive changes taking place.
Positive press coverage isn’t usually something we associate with Stockport. Even some of the kafuffle around Redrock and the Produce Hall has created awareness of the changes, and if you have had the chance to sample either of these new venues, the practical customer experience is very high and shows what we can offer.
Now the arrival to Stockport by train and road has changed for the better, and the plans for the bus interchange are very promising, accessing our town centre is now better than it’s ever been before and it’s only going to improve.
In my view, the plans for the interchange development are a must do. Currently it’s such a major eyesore, in the way much of the Arndale and bus station in Manchester in the 1980’s was. Buses are a very practical mode of public transport, but don’t have the same holding in peoples view as the trains and Metrolink services do, so having a modern green station facility in the heart of the town centre could transform views of this form of transport.
We now have 3 key sites that have benefitted from major investment; the train station, Redrock, and the Market Place, strengthened by the Produce Hall and the new bars and restaurants. The next key move is to link these sites together and ensure that those walking off a train into the Holiday Inn and then looking for dinner, drinks and entertainment are aware of what’s in the town centre, where these places are and that they feel comfortable exploring.
We’ve all heard about the funds that were made available for the Old town/Underbanks area, but we haven’t heard anything about these being spent or how they’re going to be spent?
There are businesses in these areas investing themselves and driving it forward but what’s the ‘master plan’?
We will soon see life injected back into the old White Lion, which will be a big step forward, as will the likes of The Old Sorting Office. Both developments will bring in better footfall and demand, which will undoubtedly benefit local traders in the core retail parts of the town centre and in turn help grow the numbers of food and drink operators that will be the foundation of the evening economy.
The Stockport BID, Totally Stockport, is supporting the town centre in a way that previously relied heavily on private sector investment. Whilst new events such as the Makers Markets are bringing new footfall into the town centre, we see first-hand that changes and new fresh ideas are needed and welcomed; the Frog Trail that has taken over the town this summer is one of many exciting ideas to support this. To see businesses, retailers, public and private sectors working together towards a stronger town centre brings its own level of excitement, as the belief in what we are and can deliver is brought to fruition.
Merseyway has its plans for the Adlington Walk entrance, which look great and would again be another step in the right direction; hopefully linking this area better with the Old Town/Underbanks area – though I can’t help feeling that the area needing attention first is Mersey Square.
The way Mersey Square sits fronting the A6 and the new road route from the M60, means the tired glazed frontage and low-quality retail offer unfortunately remains a first impression for many of what the town centre has to offer. Hopefully the interchange works will blend into this area, as the improved footfall the interchange should bring, needs to have that welcoming journey all the way into the various quarters of the town centre. After all, it is the main route into the Redrock area, which shouldn’t just attract visitors by car.
So, we can remain excited about the successes of the 2018/19 season both on the pitch and off it, as we look forward with anticipation to the new season, the new challenges, and the areas of investment that the next stage requires.