WEIR MILL VIEW02 DUSK FINAL HIGH RES
The 253-home development was designed by BDP

Stockport Heritage Trust objects to Weir Mill plans 

Dan Whelan

A 14-storey apartment block proposed as part of Capital & Centric’s £60m scheme would negatively impact views of the grade two-listed Stockport Viaduct and should be refused, according to the conservation group. 

To support its objections to the developer’s Weir Mill project, Stockport Heritage Trust submitted a petition to the local council with 3,000 signatures opposing the plans for a 253-home scheme designed by architect BDP. 

The height and massing of the tower, one of two new-build elements contained in the proposals, would “obstruct important views of the viaduct, especially when considered alongside cumulative effects of adjacent high-rise development”, Stockport Heritage Trust said in its submission to the council.  

While the trust said it “accepts the need to enable development to help fund the repair and rehabilitation of Weir Mill”, it claims alternative sites, including some within the council’s Town Centre West development zone, could be used to “facilitate a more benign Weir Mill development”. 

However, Richard Spackman, development manager at Capital & Centric, said the new-build elements were essential to ensure the viability of the project, which also includes the restoration of former mill buildings. 

“Developing a complicated site with historic listed buildings right next to the River Mersey and the viaduct makes viability a real challenge,” he said. 

“Taking on board feedback from local heritage groups we have chosen a design that protects the views of the viaduct as far as we possibly could. Without intervention, historic buildings like Weir Mill will be lost forever.” 

Capital & Centric bought the site from Maryland Securities last May, and lodged a planning application for its redevelopment in January following two rounds of public consultation. 

Spackman added: “Our plans will bring these beautiful buildings, which were built before the viaduct, back to life and open the site up to the public but to deliver all this we have to have some new build development,” he said. 

Your Comments

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With this and the GMSF Stockport is really knocking it out of the park at the moment.

By Rich X

A stronger visual link between the new build and the viaduct is possible, but overall it is a great scheme and the restoration of the mill should be viewed in the context of the viability constraints.

By IMP

What’s wrong with it? There are already large buildings built adjacent too the viaduct. At least this one’s attractive and in keeping with the industrial aesthetic. There are zero grounds for refusal on that basis as far as I can see.

By Teacup storm

When considering `important views of the viaduct’, we should surely consider the shocking state of repair of the viaduct itself first.
Years of neglect of this fine industrial architecture the town professes to be proud of are plainly evident in the poor condition of the brickwork and the abundance of greenery growing out of it.
In addition, is it only me who can see the adjacent Red Rock cinema and carpark complex?!!
Whilst no particular fan of the BDP design (and I genuinely fail to see the point of sticking random boxes on the outside of buildings), at least the colour pallet is more in keeping with the viaduct than the example of psychedelia already constructed in the viaduct’s shadow.

By Slightly Astounded

I have to agree with the Heritage Trust here. I do like the cladding of the tower but it’s too close and too high next to the bridge.

By Andrew

Nothing should be built that rises any further than the impost line of the arches. There are numerous options that would enable the new-build massing, required to ensure it’s viability, without building a tower that has such an impediment on the Stockport skyline.

By Anon

Given the backward nature of Stockport planners and politicians I suspect this proposal will come to nothing.

By Anonymous

Hmmm. Very hard to hide a massive viaduct behind a building.

Move the building away a bit and improve its’ proportions – it’s squat and ugly at the moment, much like myself.
The balance of horizontals and verticals doesn’t help at all. I am available for a design review you know.

By Anonymous

Our towns and cities can’t be frozen in time… this scheme looks great, and will unlock a new part of Stockport to the public whilst saving a historic mill complex! A limited blocking of an arch or two of the viaduct won’t change anyone’s impression of it, if anything more people will come and see it as a result.

By IMO

Quite agree with the objection, another hideous lump like Regent House spoiling the setting of the viaduct. Stockport has had enough planning disasters over the years without this. Restoration of the mill itself, which predates the viaduct, is all that should be permitted.

By StockportMike

I suspect many of the people who have commented so far have a vested interest in imposing this blot on the landscape on the most important view in Stockport. The rest of Capital & Centric’s Weir Mill designs are splendid, but with now well over 3,000 people objecting to this tower being right next to the viaduct and twice the height of the viaduct, they should site it in the Town Centre West Development Zone which is directly adjacent to C&Cs main development on the west of their proposed application.
The Grade II* Listed Viaduct belongs to Network Rail and they are responsible for its maintenance. Maybe ‘Slightly Astounded’ likes the Carbuncle Award winning RedRock complex, but I should point out it is actually 300m away from the Viaduct! C&C, Stockport does not want another Carbuncle Award for your tower block of flats.

By Stopfordian

This reminds me of the ‘Speakers house’ proposal, (17 story office space with first class retail space at ground level as I remember). It too was refused, I was one of about 22 people who commented, mainly expressing shock and dismay. I think these processes should be transparent because I feel there are groups of people (with power) who wish that they remain under lock and key. I think decisions such as these two are shameful. Their reasoning is spurious and flawed and I’m being generous.

By Robert Fuller

so Stockport Heritage Trust wants a “more benign Weir Mill development” !? well the residents of Stockport, myself included, want something aspirational and inspirational

By Deborah Wood

As far as I know Stockport Heritage Trust is not a statutory consultee, and the council can (I think) view a petition no matter how many signatures as one objection. Historic England or SPAB are the only objections you genuinely need to worry about.

By Bradford

recent comment from our representatives: Navendu Mishra-MP for Stockport. “Stockport Viaduct is a proud landmark for all Stopfordians and I tabled an Early day motion which encouraged all parliamentarians to sign Their support for this engineering feet.” Councillor David Mellor-Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration. “Stockport Viaduct is the icon of our town and known right across the country: It is our heritage.”
Why then want to cover substantial views of it with adjacent Tower blocks both sides?

By concerned

Stockport Heritage Trust clearly don’t know how developments work. The 14 storey building is required to redevelop the mill. C&C have taken a massive gamble to buy and redevelop this area of Stockport, no other developer would take this on. On top of that the state of the viaduct is also in urgent care which the Heritage trust haven’t done anything about for decades.

By Mrbrightside

As someone who has studied a bit of history around the viaduct, Weir Mill actually came first. So the developers could complain that viaduct is a blight on the view of the mill!

By Anonymous

Weir Mill dates from the 1790s and saving it would a very welcome move. The tall tower has been proposed as it enables the developers to generate income that will fund the development of the Mill. However, as I understand it, the Heritage Trust is objecting to the siting of the tower right next to the historic and grandest landmark in the town. As the trust, says, the tower could be built on the other side of the Mill to the west, away from the viaduct.

Another, much larger tower has been given the go-ahead by the council, to be built as part of the new bus station (apparently an interchange). This bus station tower, along with Regent House, will block large parts of the view of the viaduct from the town centre. The remaining view of the middle section of the viaduct will then be ruined if this proposed tower block is constructed. There are some inaccurate claims being made amongst these comments including that there are many large buildings adjacent to the viaduct (there are not), and that the Red Rock complex is within the shadow of the viaduct (it’s nowhere near the viaduct). Someone has even claimed the new tower will be “aspirational and inspirational” – really, yet another tower block? Does the magnificence and grandeur of the viaduct, its Victorian architecture, and place in the town centre not inspire? Let’s keep our view of the viaduct!

By StockportResi

Object to the 14 storey block as overshadows the viaduct & looks out of place. If they reduced the size to the same as the other block which they are intending to build which I think is 7/8 storeys it would be fine

By Sue Maudsley

Saw this yesterday so, unlike some people commenting, thought I’d find out more before saying anything. The details of the planning application are readily available on the councils website.

It includes a detailed analysis of the impact the proposals would have on heritage assets – specifically Weir Mill itself and the viaduct – and concludes that the proposal will lead to less than substantial harm to the significance of those designated heritage assets. The submitted reports state that Historic England have been consulted and sighted on the analysis and are in agreement – note it is Historic England who are the statutory body responsible for such matters, not the local heritage trust.

NPPF paragraph 196 says that less than substantial harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal including, where appropriate, securing its optimum viable use. It is for the council in determining the application to reach their own view on where the balance lies in this case but, again, Historic England appear to consider it acceptable.

One other thing that the heritage trust (and others) seem to miss is that there isn’t an option of developing elsewhere in the wider area to subsidise the Weir Mill scheme – you’d effectively be robbing Peter to pay Paul as any other site in the wider area is already programmed to be developed as part of the MDC. You might as well just say that the council should give the developer the money required to make the scheme viable.

By this time tomorrow

The new tower isn’t a bad building but it shouldn’t be taller than the viaduct. It should be the same height as the tallest existing Weir Mill building, to complement the viaduct not overshadow it

By Anonymous

I fully support the development. Especially as Weir Mill will also benefit from this development. Too many people in Stockport are opposed to change for no obvious reason than they don’t like change & have nothing else to do but oppose plans.

By John Maccarthy

Mrbrightside incorrectly states that: “Stockport Heritage Trust clearly don’t know how developments work”. We do fully understand how these developments work, and know that this one requires funding with a housing grant. The trust has actually had a one-hour Zoom meeting with the C&C developers to discuss our objections and we have made positive suggestions for an alternative site adjacent to their development for their 14-storey block of flats in the Town Centre West Development Zone on King Street West.

By Stopfordian

I actually don’t dislike the design of the building but does it have to be so close to the viaduct? Could it not be moved back at all? Also unless they’re a trainspotter who’s going to buy the apartments immediately overlooking the railway?

By Anonymous

@Stopfordian: Not really sure how ‘positive’ describes the suggestion that C & C leave a portion of the scheme they’ve already bought fallow to buy additional land not currently available for development? Also, it’s worth noting that ‘well over 3,000 people objecting’ represents a tiny fraction (~ 1 – 2%) of the borough’s population. Hardly overwhelming, is it?? I’d be quite interested to see the demographic of those 3,000, too. Are they mainly the young and / or economically active, who’ll have to live with the consequences of any decision, or older folk, who won’t?

By The Dude

Had I known about the plans I also would have signed the petition . Dreadful idea! I know Stockport is trying to improve its centre but this would ruin its main feature !

By Sue Kershaw