Stockport Council is bringing forward plans to create coworking space and small office suites in the former Next unit at Merseyway, as part of its wider series of interventions at the prominent town centre location.
While the shopping centre has had piecemeal refurbishments over the past decades, the centre has suffered a similar fate to many town retail precincts, and has seen a number of high-profile store closures since the council bought the centre out of administration in April 2016, including BHS, Marks & Spencer, New Look, and Next.
The council has been working to revitalise the centre, with AEW Architects advising on the wider overhaul and modernisation to include new shopfronts, improved access, public realm and community facilities. This is due to complete in 2022.
The redevelopment of the former Next block is key as it forms a prominent part of the shopping centre.
A planning application from AEW on behalf of the council proposes the redevelopment of the first floor of the unit into a 15,000 sq ft Innovation Centre, to provide a “flexible, collaborative and engaging community workspace incubator.”
As part of the refurbishment, there will be new cladding and expansions to the windows to allow floor-to-ceiling height, and ground floor access from Merseyway. The offices will include coworking areas, a flexible business lounge, divisible meeting rooms and smaller office units.
Kids Go Karting operates from half of the former Next unit, while the unlet space has “a tired frontage and poor footfall”, according to the planning documents.
Merseyway opened in 1965 and sits in the centre of the town, near to the transport interchange and leisure-led Redrock, and is a key focus area for the council as it also brings forward the masterplan for the nearby 3,500-home Town Centre West.
Also in Merseyway, developer and investor Glenbrook is bringing forward a 64,000 sq ft office-led redevelopment of the former Marks & Spencer unit, rebranded Stok, which was purchased from the council last year for an undisclosed sum.
M&S closed its doors in April 2018, and construction company Austin Wilkinson Demolition started work on the site in December to strip out the building and remove asbestos.