As the next office at the gateway plot next to Stockport’s railway station comes forward, Place North West sat down with Muse Developments and the council to talk about the project’s future and its successes to date.
The steel frame of 2 Stockport Exchange is already largely in place, sitting next to its fully-occupied sister office, 1 Stockport Exchange, as well as a Holiday Inn Express.
The second office is a signal of the success of the development to date, and an undeniable improvement over what many commuters formerly counted as their opening view of the town when stepping off the train: muddled public realm and a bin store to the back of Brannigan’s Bar.
Much of the former Grand Central development, featuring a bowling alley and a Cineworld cinema, has been cleared to aid the regeneration, with the town’s leisure centre being retained.
Contractor GMI started on 2 Stockport Exchange in November last year and is well advanced with the build, due to complete by the end of February 2020. Overall, the building will provide 61,500 sq ft of offices; Cushman & Wakefield and CBRE are the agents, and a major deal at the site for a pre-let is understood to be imminent.
With 1 Stockport Exchange fully let to Stagecoach and Music Magpie, the developer Muse and Stockport Council are hoping to repeat their success at the neighbouring building, according to Greg Ball of Muse.
“We want to draw new businesses into the town centre and the rent of £22.50/sq ft is competitive for the quality of what’s being delivered, and the connectivity on offer”, he said.
The site’s connectivity, given its prominent position a stone’s throw from the railway station, as well as being alongside the A6 and near the motorway network, is one of Stockport Exchange’s key selling points, added Paul Richards, director of development & regeneration at the council.
“What other sites are connected to Manchester city centre in eight minutes with 247 trains a day? We find ourselves competing more for occupiers with the city centre, but really given the speculative nature of the development and the availability there’s nothing like it being delivered elsewhere in Greater Manchester.” Competing sites put forward include Alderley Park, Towers Business Park, and Airport City, but Richards argued none of these “were really similar to what we’re building here”.
The masterplan for the site features further offices and depending on the appetite for 2 Stockport Exchange, and a third neighbouring office building could follow “pretty quickly”, according to Ball.
The site already has outline consent for more development stretching to the A6, featuring three further commercial blocks. Moving forward, future schemes are likely to be sequenced moving towards the main road and the town centre.
During the delivery of 2 Stockport Exchange, Muse and the council are also making conscious efforts to improve the public realm; although already dramatically upgraded around the completed developments, it deteriorates significantly towards the leisure centre.
“We’ll be cracking on with the public realm around 2 Stockport Exchange and the leisure centre soon, and actually delivering more than what’s necessarily needed at this point to give the area a facelift,” said Ball.
The regeneration of the site has been one of the driving forces behind Stockport’s ongoing renaissance; with the council’s Town Centre West plan set to deliver 3,000 homes, a new transport interchange and a 196-home residential block on the town’s bus station; and an overhaul of Stockport College, there is already significant momentum to add to the completed Redrock leisure complex next to the Merseyway Shopping Centre.
“Stockport Exchange acted as a catalyst to give the council the confidence to invest in other sites in the town centre, and it gives us the confidence to say to investors, we’ll deliver what we say we’ll deliver,” said Richards.