Railway connection key as Cheadle Towns Fund bid nears

The board staking the Stockport suburb’s claim for a Town Deal worth up to £25m has confirmed it is on course to submit its investment plan next month, within the Towns Fund’s second cohort.

In November 2019, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government announced that 1,010 towns nationwide had been selected for the Towns Fund, with each town able to apply for up to £25m to address regeneration, skills and enterprise, and connectivity. Match funding is not a necessity but might strengthen a case, MHCLG said.

In December last year, Stockport Council received £140,000 of capacity funding to assist the town board with technical work in compiling its case. The Cheadle Towns Fund Board convened for the first time in January, and has met regularly since.

Economic development consultancy SQW was appointed as lead consultant, while rail specialist Pell Frischmann was brought in to develop a business case, as a new railway station is a key potential project.

According to a report for Stockport Council’s economy and regeneration scrutiny committee, which meets this Thursday, Pell Frischmann has nearly completed its work. Arup has been commissioned by MHCLG nationally to assist town boards, while Savills has also been involved.

Transport is at the root of Cheadle’s case and the report says: “The Town Investment Plan is rooted in the economic issues and opportunities that face Cheadle. These include traffic congestion, the lack of public transport, especially by rail or Metrolink, the changing high street and the scope for local job opportunities”.

The aim is for a station on the line that runs through the area, on the line towards Altrincham and Chester from Manchester Piccadilly via Stockport, possibly close to the BMI Alexandra hospital.

The four main strands of the bid are:

  • A railway station, probably single platform, and to be future-proofed by being made ready for tram-trains
  • Enhanced cycling and walking infrastructure, linking the centre and new station with key employment areas
  • Provision of a new innovation, digital technology and co-working space in central Cheadle, bearing in mind new ways of working post-Covid
  • Delivering environmentally sustainable physical developments to support future growth – meaning improved employment land at scale in attractive locations.

The Towns Fund Board is chaired by Marge Falconer, chief executive of the BMI Alexandra hospital. Community consultation, led by the Cheadle Village Partnership, was carried out this summer, garnering 1,200 responses.

Cheadle is also waiting on a decision from MHCLG on the additional £500,000 applied for this summer, which was announced for projects deliverable by March 2021 – Cheadle’s submission included new cycling facilities in the village centre, wildlife projects at Abney Hall Park and a High Street community information point.

The cabinet is asked to endorse the work done so far and authorise officers to support the delivery of the investment plan, taking on board consultation feedback and technical information on property options and viability.

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