Stockport Council has outlined its proposed regeneration of the town’s Merseyway shopping centre, including the acquisition of an ex-BHS unit, adding green space, and the redevelopment of the former Next block.
The council bought the struggling 300,000 sq ft shopping centre out of administration in April last year, and the past 12 months have seen a number of high-profile store closures including BHS, Marks & Spencer, New Look, and Next.
Stockport’s cabinet first approved an action plan for the shopping centre in December last year and the council has now outlined its next steps to help revitalise the area, which has benefitted from the opening of Redrock, the town’s neighbouring cinema and leisure development.
Chief amongst these is the redevelopment of the former Next block which forms a prominent part of the shopping centre. The council is proposing to split this unit into four, based on three secured pre-lets, and refurbish the building’s façade. This work is likely to commence once heads of terms are agreed with the tenants, who have not yet been named.
The council is also proposing to acquire the former BHS unit, having secured an option on the building with its owner. Further proposals for this building, including a potential refurbishment, are being worked up and are likely to return to cabinet for sign-off in the New Year.
Stockport is also considering the purchase of further retail units when they come available.
The report to the council also said improving public realm would be a key focus of the improvements to the shopping centre, which has a “dated and tired appearance”. This could include cleaning the main frontage of the centre, the installation of pop-up green space, and adding vinyls and banners to the front to promote the redevelopment of the town centre.
The current toilet block in the Merseyway at Vernon Walk is proposed to be overhauled with a new amenity block which the council said would “help reposition Merseyway as a more family-orientated environment”.
A new access core is also set to be installed which will allow direct access from the centre’s car park into Adlington Walk; the council said this would have a knock-on effect of improving access to the centre from Chestergate, Great Underbank, and the old town.
The majority of these projects will be delivered under an agreed funding stream, which is costed at around £40m. The next steps for the Merseyway will be discussed by the council’s economy and regeneration scrutiny committee at a meeting next week.