Positive public sector intervention in Stockport town centre
At the same time as the Greater Manchester Combined Authority brought out the revised Greater Manchester Spatial Framework for consultation, it also commenced consultation on a Mayoral Development Corporation until 10 March 2019 for the area known as Stockport Town Centre West. This area covers 130 acres and is located on the areas of Stockport town centre that are west of the A6.
The idea behind the creation of the MDC is to speed up the transformation of the western area of Stockport town centre in order to create a new urban village providing up to 3,000 new homes along with a mix of complementary uses and infrastructure to support the new community.
The MDC will be the first in the Greater Manchester area, and we anticipate that it will be confirmed following the consultation. The consultation on the MDC will be followed by a public consultation on detailed masterplan proposals in a Strategic Regeneration Framework in Spring 2019.
The MDC may have the powers to acquire, develop, hold, dispose of land and facilitate the provision of infrastructure. The Report to the GMCA and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities Executive Board meeting on 11 January 2019 summarised an independently prepared business case for the MDC, which concluded that it would be the ‘optimal regeneration vehicle’ for the Town Centre West area as it would:
- Deliver the single institutional platform for land assembly, masterplanning, development facilitation, site preparation and infrastructure and place creation; and the ability to harness the resources of local and national government to secure maximum impacts and efficiency
- Have the profile and ability to create a diverse mix of investment propositions to take to the market
- Have the profile to procure development partners underpinned by land sale agreements or joint ventures between public and private sector partners
- Provide a vehicle through which public sector land acquisition powers could be brought together to facilitate and unlock development
- Be able to bring together appropriate experience and capacity in development and place-making from across the public sector, and at Board-level through both Executive and Non-Executive members, to create the momentum to support delivery of a long-term and complex change programme
- Set in place a time-limited but long-term structure and business plan that would sit outside other organisational contexts and pressures. This would ensure that there was a committed and certain resource set in place to underpin its investment strategy. A single place integrated approach for all these key activities and requirements will optimise the relationships between democratic responsibility and the economic and social priorities of the Mayor, Combined Authority and the Council and other public/private partners
- Be required to report to both Stockport Council and Greater Manchester Combined Authority to ensure that its proceedings can be scrutinised within existing democratic structures
Peter Whittingham from Savills comments: “We support the overall principle of the creation of a MDC to regenerate the Town Centre West area of Stockport. The creation of a MDC focusing on town centre development accords with the Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham’s, objectives for the revised GMSF. It therefore makes sense for any MDC that is created to focus on the Mayor’s core policy to revitalise Greater Manchester’s town centres. The Development Corporation is a successful model for securing regeneration, following examples in London for the Olympic legacy village, and the redevelopment at Oak Common. Issues regarding governance, accountability and funding are critical to ensure the success, but the principal of establishing a MDC is highly welcomed.”
Jay Patel from Savills adds: “The MDC provides a good opportunity to create a high-quality urban neighbourhood, bringing the overall area into positive higher density use. The regeneration of the area of land from the Stagecoach depot along the River Mersey has been talked about for a long period of time. It is in need of regeneration given its prominent location in the town centre and the creation of higher density uses presents an opportunity to create high-quality waterside living in Stockport town centre. The area is centred around excellent public and sustainable transport links, which provide easy connections to Stockport and the wider Greater Manchester area. Residents in the area, for example, will be able to benefit from easy and highly frequent connections into Manchester City Centre. We’d also expect residents to benefit from higher levels of affordability in terms of housing prices when compared to Manchester City Centre. We consider the approach continues the proactive approach that Stockport Council has been taking to development within its town centre with notable schemes including the Stockport Exchange commercial development and the Redrock leisure development.”
Matthew Sobic from Savills concludes: “We’re interested to see how the MDC will operate in practice. However, providing any opportunity that speeds up the development process, and provides a single body with the powers to acquire land and facilitate development, along with ability to procure private sector development partners with the experience and expertise to undertake large-scale regeneration projects can only be a good initiative to assist with urban regeneration. Given Stockport Council’s substantial landholdings in the area to the east of the A6, including Merseyway Shopping Centre, we’d anticipate the Council to be working up significant regeneration plans also for that area and we look forward to seeing how plans for that element of the town centre could evolve and link in with the Town Centre West area.”
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