Weir Mill Stockport
The Weir Mill site could include up to 300 homes

Stockport identifies sites for 3,000 town centre homes

Stockport Council has highlighted a series of sites with the potential for residential use in the town centre, including around its new transport interchange, along King Street West, and the Kwik-Fit site under the viaduct, with a combined potential for up to 3,000 new homes.

As part of its town centre residential strategy, focussed on developing brownfield, the council has chosen a series of key sites which could form a residential corridor from the River Mersey up King Street West to the town’s railway station.

The largest site is around the railway station, which could support up to 790 homes nearby, while the existing Stagecoach depot and offices along King Street West could have the capacity for 700 new homes. The council said the relocation of the depot “would make a big difference to the area’s desirability,” and said it would support Stagecoach “in assessing viable relocation options”.

There are also two smaller sites that form part of the plan: the Kwik-Fit site opposite The Crown pub has the potential for 35 units or a mixed-use scheme, with the council currently assessing the options for the site.

Similarly, there is a riverside site currently at “a concept stage” along Chestergate, currently home to an industrial unit, which could support up to 100 homes, and discussions are “ongoing with the current owner to align aspirations for the site to be used as residential,” said the council.

Two of the sites are more advanced: Weir Mill, and the new transport interchange.

The largest of these is at Weir Mill, which has already received a £5.6m grant from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to kick-start development. This will provide 300 homes in a mix of restored and new-build accommodation and the council is hopeful of bringing this forward in the next two years.

Similarly, the council aims to build 200 new homes on a podium above the proposed transport interchange, which will replace the town’s existing bus station. Like Weir Mill, this has received funding from the HIF to the tune of £2.6m, and the council hopes to submit a planning application for this project in the summer.

Funding for the additional sites has not been secured but the council said funding sources including a potential housing deal for Greater Manchester, will be used to help release these for development.

A full town centre living development framework will be presented to the council in June 2018, but before this, Stockport has recommended that it will look at compulsory purchase order powers, if necessary, to bring forward certain sites that fall within its Town Centre West area.

CPOs are initially expected to focus on the Weir Mill area, if approved by the council.

It is also working with CBRE on a feasibility study to see how a Mayoral Development Corporation in the town could support residential growth.

Stockport Town Centre West Development Area

Stockport Council’s Town Centre West area could support up to 3,000 homes

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I like the vision but reality should be considered. Probably 30-50 separate ownerships. Also Worth remembering that the £50m brownfield fund covers all boroughs and sites I.e. not enough to go around and collyhurst will probably take quite a chunk of it in any event. Again, I like the aspiration but will be lucky if delivers half the 3000 in the gmsf plan period. As for compulsory purchase there is no money set aside for this.

By Another interested observer

Firstly how much and what will they cost
And how do you apply for one I am 27 years old male
And still living with my parents came out of uni with a degree and ended up selling ppi

By George shepherd

At least it’s a step in th right direction, Stockport Council are a least listening to the voice of the people in that we don’t want the plans for building on green belt to go ahead. They should be encouraged in their vision, and this is the opportunity for Stockport to lead the way in development of brown field sites in the north west.

By Flossie Topping

Good..Must also build on Green Belt as nothing stays the same for ever…

By Schwyz

Well done to Stockport for carrying out this work. This time last year they were pretending it wasn’t possible to build in Stockport, there were only a few opportunities for brownfield development and that green belt development was essential. Maybe if they look a bit harder they will find comparable opportunities in their other centres (including my own in Marple) and green belt development will not be needed after all. Thank goodness for Andy Burnham insisting on this course. He has been a breath of fresh air.

By Peter Black

@Peter Black Do you live in the green belt then? Seems a bit unfair if you do…

By Pot kettle

Green belt development will not be necessary in Greater Manchester for at least another 60 years. There is plenty of brownfield land in all boroughs to satisfy housing, commercial and industrial demand for two generations.

By Anonymous

I hope I’m there for the GMSF/Local Examination sessions looking at this. The Council will have to demonstrate thatall of these sites are viable and deliverable – it’ll be hilarious. Also, I wonder just how many families in Stockport aspirt to live under a railway viaduct or above a bus station? Anyone who thinks that housing needs can be met without reviewing the (now massively out-of-date) Green Belt boundaries clearly knows absolutely nothing about the scale and nature of housing need in this city.

By Anonymous

In order for this area to thrive a critical mass is essential and the high densities envisaged are probably appropriate.
I know this is only a concept sketch and not a formal design proposal (at least I hope it’s not!) but the sooner a quality solution is presented the better. The viaduct and the river demand a sensitive solution that enhances their potential………not one that ignores it.

By Dave McCall

Anonymous – presumably you have evidence to demonstrate that these sites are all suitable, available and achievable and the number of units they can accommodate?

By Nordyne

Very happy that brownfield development is the preferred option and more residents in our town centre can only encourage and improve the commercial and retail offering too. However, we need to ensure that we have a transport system that is fit for purpose otherwise it will be a total disaster.

By Anonymous

“Anonymous”, the downside is investor developers are not interested whether theirs plenty of brownfield sites and maybe tax benefits/consents, the majority of buyers at a price will invest in green suburbia before purchasing adjacent monolithic structures such as railway arches.

Lets hope as George suggests this scheme is affordable to the first time buyer

By CBA

it will take years to put sites in stockport town ready for development. will families want to live there?think not. woodford is planned for hundreds of houses – far more suitable next to current airport development.

By robert henry

where are all the schools being built !!!
where are the plans for the health cetre’s!!
NONE I GUESS JUST LIKE EVERYWHERE YOUR PUTTING HOUSES…NO SCHOOLS/DOCTORS TO ACCOM ALL THIS.

By m pickfprd

Another interested observer – they may be thinking of the Mayoral Development Corporation powers which GM has the potential to use – more akin to New Town powers of old, if you know anything of them, I think than CPO. Certainly easier when it comes to multiple ownership issues. (good name, btw)

Peter Black – don’t know if you attended the same GMSF events in Stockport that I did – I was left with the clear impression that whilst there were limited opportunities known at that time it was just that, at that time – it’ll be interesting to see what additional opportunities have been identified elsewhere when the redrafted GMSF comes out in the summer. The 2017 land supply data they published recently has increased the amount of opportunities quite significantly compared to the 2015 land supply data that the draft GMSF consultation was based on. The 2017 land supply data is, of course, as of the start of April 2017, before Andy Burnham was elected, so not really something he can take much credit for.

By Interested Observer

Interested observer- imitation on the name is best form of compliment! Good point on the Mayoral Development Corporation. I believe the legal powers are with the Mayor but as I understand it there are no funds to back up the powers and therefore effectively powers are mute. Furthermore, from what I have seen of repeated reference to C.P.O or otherwise across Rochdale, Stalybridge and now Stockport in order to assemble multi owner sites very significant funds would be needed which simply aren’t there. Moreover C.P.O, legal costs, leaseholders and delays do not equate to viable or deliverable within the GMSF plan period. Again, I commend the vision for Stockport but it needs to be capable of delivery and there is also the question of housing stock to be delivered as I’m unsure how many 2-3 bed houses with gardens are planned (and if so where) and unsure as to how many families would choose to live in Stockport town centre. Great vision but with the timescales already in place which have to be met for Manchester to receive its housing deal and the inspectors having to sign off interesting times ahead.

By Another interested observer

Why has it got to be Houses. Why not Bungalows. , Flats, Accommodation for The over 50s. Schools, Health Centres. Play Centres.

By Anonymous

Looks like the volume builders have managed to hobble even modest density, sustainable town centre development forming part of the councils housing supply land allocations. If sustainable town centre development is “unviable” and undeliverable in terms that are acceptable to profiteering volume house builders then policy, legislation, the excise of powers and funding regime need to be altered to make it sure it is because the current situation simply does not work for anyone but house builders and land owners.

The builders’ favoured model of repetitive green belt sprawl wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the fact that their product is undersized, overpriced, lacking amenities, unaffordable for many and poorly built and when you put all these “estates” together, they don’t create any kind of community, just mind numbing, ugly, dormitories, disconnected from their urban centre.

The power imbalance really does need tipping back towards communities who don’t have access to resources to lobby government to rig policy in their favour like the builders do.

By Housing dysfunction

Surely something must be done to reduce vehicular air pollution (both road and rail) before proceeding with these schemes. Do the Council and developers really want to face joint legal action by COPD sufferers cooped up in these battery dwellings?

By Christopher John Green

I was pleased to see the Stockport MBC announcement via Place North West (9th April) about new housing development in the town centre. I have also viewed the MBC webcast on Town Centre West Residential Strategy (9th April). I’m not sure how influential my report “Defragmenting Stockport”, which I sent to selected council members last year has been, but initiatives like this are much needed. The town is in dire need of footfall, which the construction of more highways and car parks is spectacularly failing at providing, and this new residential strategy could be a great leap forward.

However,

Similar fanfares have greeted such initiatives before. The SHLAA, once market tested by private sector housing development partners, concluded that no town centre sites were suitable for development “in the current economic climate.” It is firstly important therefore that the council challenges this economic climate by undertaking these projects directly rather than expecting inward investment from the private sector. I am no expert on local authority finances, but this would only seem to be possible by redirecting substantial funds from elsewhere, and the only current beneficiary of substantial funding appears to be highway construction and enlargement contracts; £600m could go a long way…

The proposals target large sites, probably because for marketing purposes they are simplest to convey. The real opportunity within the town centre however lies in the agglomeration of small sites; vacant shops, upper floors, meanwhile parking lots, highway verges and the like. This approach would involve less fanfare perhaps, but more “marginal gains”.

The proposals listed by Place North West are for 2,125 houses in total. This is a long way short of the 19,000 envisaged by the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework of 2015/16. By considering the large number of small sites referred to above, I have demonstrated it to be possible to accommodate over 9,000 homes in just the town centre, with a consequent potential for 270,000 homes borough-wide. Refer to the above report, which incidentally does not factor-in sites at Stagecoach, Kwik-fit, the railway station, or bus station podium.

The overall Town Centre West proposal quotes a total of 3,000 houses within a red line site of about 50 hectares, a density of 60 dwellings per hectare. This is well below the density being achieved elsewhere and is not therefore making the most of the sites in question.

I am pleased to note the reference to compulsory purchase. This power should be extended especially to all vacant buildings and sites in designated conservation areas around the town, particularly those with surface car parking, an unsuitable use within a conservation area.

It is important that any town centre development becomes a neighbourhood of choice, not simply top-down provision for those with no choice. With this in mind proposals need to be in place to generate lively and therefore safe streets, and provide for complementary local services and employment activity. The chosen sites, encircled as they are by highways, will fail as communities if they are a decontaminated mono-functional sorting of houses, which the proposal at Weir Mill appears to be. The question about rapid relocation of existing businesses raised by both councillors Linda and Becky in the above webcast was the wrong one; solutions should be sought to retain existing businesses, not relocate them.

Further, if this is a proposal for just 2,125 houses of a total of 19,000, is it disguising the real project, which is to provide standard detached developer housing on green belt at 30 units per hectare? Evidence from surrounding districts is that continued highway building is leading to green belt “release”, fuelling out of town development which in turn sucks life from the town centre, and in Stockport’s case this effect is verging on terminal. It is therefore vital that any commitment to build town centre houses is accompanied by an equally firm commitment to not build further highways, housing or commercial space on green land around the town.

I am confused about both the question and answer regarding commercial viability raised towards the end of the webcast. The council has recently tested this through SHLAA, why would any different response be given now? Private sector house builders are not interested in town centre sites and following the GMSF will instead be lining up for an anticipated wave of green belt release.

The proposal for Weir Mill is worrying. Contrary to planning officer Paul’s view at the above webcast, the lower buildings and the cobbled courtyard they enclose are clearly an important part of the history of the complex, contributing to the historic and architectural integrity of the whole. They also provide a very useful buffer against the acoustic and air pollution of surrounding streets, without which the housing garden space would be unusable and need security fencing. Their retention as workspace units could lend diversity and economic sustainability to the project, the overlapping times of use prompting community building and security, whilst retaining some existing use on site. The opportunity should be taken to pedestrianise King Street West, to in part moderate the sites hostile surroundings, and to encourage economic activity in the footfall created by the project, stimulating connectivity with surrounding streets and sites as they are developed. But this is neighbourhood building, I’m not sure Stockport is ready for this yet.

The Place North West text for Weir Mill is accompanied by a very primitive “Sketchup” illustration, and there are none I can see of the other proposals. This is in stark contrast to recent public consultation exercises carried out by the MBC for TCAP and A6-M60, both of which entered the public realm on the basis of millimetre-designed technical drawings; rather than “consultation” in any sense of the word, more a statement of intent. I am therefore unsure if this whole announcement is to be taken seriously.

By Anonymous

This is very welcome and long overdue. I think that the viaduct deserves better visual access as a land mark. There seems to be no axial points of view, when the structure is dramatic and a town brand it could be given real exposure and not treated as an impediment; respect it and do not compete with it. Brick could be used much better in the renders and please give them balconies. Please do not worry about car ownership as this is a suburban issue, unfortunately. A town was always a hub and there will be no limit to car less families and individuals who want to purchase in the heart of a heritage town. Building without garage spaces will give public transport initiatives a reason to move foreword developing the user base and saving money for the new residents.

By David Chandler

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