Goose Green Altrincham

Altrincham shakes off ‘ghost town’ reputation

Charlie Schouten

Altrincham has seen its number of vacant shops fall by 73% since 2010, when it had among the worst vacancy rates in the country, according to new data shared with Place North West.

According to figures from Trafford Council, shop vacancy rates have dropped from more than 30% in 2010, when the centre was labelled a “ghost town” in the national media, to 7.9% as of December 2017. This is significantly below the national average of 12.2%.

Footfall in the town centre has risen by 5% in the last 12 months alone, rising to 1.7m at the end of 2017. Again this bucks the national trend, where footfall on average has dropped by 5.5% over the same period, according to Ipsos Mori’s Retail Performance Index.

The transformation of the town centre has been led by a series of initiatives, including the town’s market, a new focus on food and drink, and a significant investment into public realm since 2015, which was project managed by consultant LK Group.

Managing director Conor Leyden told Place North West the impact of the investment on the town’s retail offering and footfall had been “unbelievable”.

Working with a team including designer Planit-IE and backed by a mix of private finance via Section 106 agreements, Transport for Greater Manchester, and Trafford Council, Leyden said the transformation “has made it almost impossible to remember what the town used to be like”.

Works have included improving the Goose Green conservation area and Cross Street; and works to Stamford New Road between Moss Lane and Regent Road.

Leyden said there would be further funding of around £3m into public realm across the town and the team had been working to make sure further private investment “tied in” to the work had already been carried out.

These include the South Trafford Health & Wellbeing Centre, built on the site of the town’s former hospital; and a proposed apartment-led mixed-use scheme on the current Regent Road car park.

Both schemes are being brought forward by developer Citybranch, and Leyden said there had been “an awful lot of conversations between Citybranch, LK and Planit” about how these would link to town’s improved public realm.

There are also plans for an Everyman cinema to open on George Street, part of the town centre that has seen significant improvements to its public realm since 2015. Occupiers that have taken space in the town’s pedestrianised shopping street in the last two years include Bistrot Pierre and Paperchase.

The improvements have not been without their difficulties after part of the Stamford Road surface had be re-laid after an error by contractor J Cooney. Leyden said the remedial works, caused by the contractor using the wrong type of finish, were carried out by J Cooney at no additional cost to the council.

The council, which part-funded the investment in public realm, is now looking at applying a similar model to other towns in the borough, including Sale.

A professional team of Planit-IE and Civic Engineers was chosen last year to work on a feasibility study for public realm improvements in and around Sale’s town centre, which will look at rejuvenating Northenden Road, School Road, and Waterside Plaza.

The study is due to be released in the coming weeks, and Leyden said LK would be “keen to bring what we’ve learned in Altrincham” to the project, once more concrete plans are in place.

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The public realm improvements have helped, but the real driver for regenerating the town centre has been the market.

By Gene Walker

If you can’t remember what it used to be like, well actually it was a much nicer town than now, Rackhams wasn’t empty and was vibrant with hairdressing salon and top brands, French Connection on the high street, terrific market and good restaurants not the self service refectory style eating hall serving pub food at restaurant prices to patrons seated on wooden benches.

By Shirley

Couldn’t agree more with G Walker, the market has been an outstanding success for the Town, a real draw for footfall and further investment into Altrincham.

By DB Jones

Want to try brushing town streets and put a bin at taxi.altrincham still tacky manchester rd near navigation main rd so untidy.other than few bits altrincham is good .needs bit brush up though.

By Alex

It’s a real pity that the improvement schemes for the flooring and road improvements are still littered with unsightly tarmac patches everywhere. Why is that when it comes to the details to finish jobs off properly the contractors fall way off the mark. They should not be paid until ALL defects are corrected. These tarmac patches will NEVER be corrected and in fact what has happened in the past is that they will be added to every time any type of groundwork is done. Sorry but it’s a fact just look at previous works done in the town previously, the contractors get away with ruining our streets!

By Mr P J Parle

Every other shop or empty unit are now food outlets .meaning that if you want anything not food phone shop don’t bother with altrincham.all these food outlets are not sustainable half will be gone in 6 month time and the town will be back to square one.!!! (Watch this space)

By Anonymous

News on reservation work on damp and loose brickwork on older houses in the Altrincham/Hale areas please

By Anonymous

Poshest town in the NW, but it aint Harrogate.

By Haz

We used to have thriving market no more we used to have shops that sold goods no more we used to have a thriving bus station no more we used to have a hospital no more all these changes have decimated altrincham the number of empty shops has increased 65+ as one opens 2 close the people who formulate these figures should be held to account Sale beware

By Krn

Progress definitely made, but still a very disjointed Centre and one I avoid. Nice Pizzas though I guess……..

By Big Vic

The turnaround is amazing, though a town with nearly 3000 homes worth £1m+ and near affluent towns such as Knutsford and Sale it’s crazy that it got that way in the first place. You can now do everything in Alty and never have to leave.

By York Street

Ken, and Anonymous, above – towns everywhere have fewer shops than they used to. With the growth of online retail, there simply isn’t as much money spent in shops. Even a luddite like me now spends more money online than in shops. It’s never going to be 1975 again; towns have to adapt. Altrincham is doing a pretty good job of that.

By John

It isn’t Harrogate, thank goodness…….the shopping is strangely poor for somewhere supposedly so affluent, the cultural offering is limited………..and try finding decent restaurants other than chains open on a Sunday evening!

By 5373

Can’t believe there is no mention of Nick Johnson, the market brainchild who above all other parties quoted is by far mostly responsible for the transformation of Altrincham.

By Anonymous2