Ritz Google
The Ritz car park site, off Fletcher Street and Piccadilly

Stockport lines up deals for BHS and resi sites

Neil Tague

Two national brands have agreed pre-lets for retail space, while the Ritz car park and former Greenhale House residential plots have buyers standing by, according to a council report.

Under the plans, the BHS site would be redeveloped into three retail units. Stockport Council will seek to appoint a design team and contractor through two local frameworks – the Property Alliance Framework and Procure North West – with work targeted to start in early 2021 and a hoped-for handover towards the end of the year.

Stockport bought the BHS building in July 2019, along with the neighbouring 18-20 Merseyway and the freehold of 14-16 Merseyway, which it already leased. Poundland now leases the former BHS space, although Optical Express has now vacated the space at 18-20.

Stockport’s economy and regeneration scrutiny committee meets tomorrow to discuss the future of the two sites. It is also considering triggering a compulsory purchase order process to acquire shop units at Wellington Road South to improve the key highway junction within the railway station and Muse’s Exchange development.

With pre-lets now secured with two retailers at the BHS site, the committee is asked to sign off tomorrow the redevelopment of the space into three units, with reworked public realm to provide grade level access to the front of the store, a rear access leading to a first floor unit and the refronting of the whole Merseyway-facing elevation.

The report to committee states: “The building is in a poor physical condition and looks dated and tired. However, the large floorplate does provide an opportunity, subject to reconfiguration and refurbishment, to deliver the size and style of unit attractive to those robust retailers still showing signs of growth in a very challenging market.”

As with the retail space, detail regarding third parties is in confidential documents for the residential plots. Both the Ritz car park site and the site of the former Greenhale House have been under offer in the last three years.

CBRE had lined up a buyer for the Ritz site but they were unable to proceed “due to changes to company structure and management”.

Online furniture retailer Urbanize plans to create 164 apartments in a 13-storey building on the now-cleared Greenhale site, a scaled-down plan from its initial talk of 22 floors, and secured approval in November 2018 – however, the company was unable to secure a funder or contractor, and the ste remained in council ownership.

CBRE has concluded a two-stage marketing process and reported 11 formal bids across the two sites, recommending that the council disposes of both sites.

The third item on the agenda for tomorrow concerns the junction of the Wellington Road South A6 and Railway Road, part of Stockport’s strategy to improve highways and junctions across the town centre.

The council owns several of the long-empty low-level units fronting the A6, but cannot reach agreement with the owner of the corner buildings and is thus launching a CPO process.

Your Comments

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I always wonder about the quality of advice being given to landowners where a local authority moves to use CPO powers – having property CPO’d rarely results in getting better value than reaching an agreement through non-statutory processes.

By Martin Cranmer

Because Sainsbury’s is closing, we need another food retailer. Also a decent clothes shop

By Miss bennett

We lost BHS and M&S it’s about time we got some decent like minded shops to replace them and help to make Stockport a town centre to be proud of again

By Pat