Stockport Council progresses BHS buy

The council is set to sign off its purchase of the former BHS store in the town centre as it moves forward with its overhaul of the Merseyway shopping centre.

Stockport first revealed it was looking to buy the BHS around six months ago and entered into an exclusivity agreement with the building’s owner in November last year.

This was due to expire in February but the council negotiated an extension of four months to allow it to sign off the purchase, and to potentially secure pre-lets.

The ownership includes the former BHS store, which is now let to Poundland; 18-20 Merseyway, let to Optical Express; and the freehold of 14-16 Merseyway, where the council already has the leasehold.

In a report to its economy and regeneration scrutiny committee, the council said: “The building currently presents a poor amenity to Merseyway and further, contributes to poor perceptions of the centre. The building is in a poor physical condition and looks dated and scruffy.”

CBRE has been advising the council on the acquisition, which is likely to be followed by a full refurbishment for any new tenants; the committee is due to discuss the report at a meeting next week, before the purchase heads to full council for approval.

The move is the latest in a series of interventions by the council in and around the Merseyway.

The council bought the struggling 300,000 sq ft shopping centre out of administration in April 2017, and the past year has 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 2017 and the council last October 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.

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 shopping centre has been able to attract tenants including Tessuti, which opened a 5,000 sq ft unit before Christmas. Others, including Thorntons, EE, WH Smith, and TUi have also committed to lease renewals at the site, while the council said “discussions with other operators” were continuing.

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Sounds good on paper but when is this new spurt of re-vitalising the town centre due to commence. I moved here in 1960 a vibrant extremely busy Stockport town. Great shopping centre & superb market to rival anywhere. Like many other places its declined but i still enjoy shopping there its just the closed shops do nothing to contribute to good overall impression for visitors or Stockport people themselves. If god forbid Debenhams goes next the prospect of a boarded up massive building right slap bang in the centre will immediately be a downer on how the place looks to anyone as already Red Rocks is the biggest eyesore ever, to greet people.& thoroughly deserved its Carbuncle prize. Plans for that corner should be made now if the Council know it is due to close. Try lowering the rents as we get told its why shops struggle to survive in a strong competitive world. Same as High St shops. Nothing looks worse than metal shutters all over the place it shouts Dilapidated, Poor, Scruffy. I was sad to see my birthplace Stretford as no.3 in worst place to shop in England i presume or at least they meant N.W. whatever, it is sad as i remember that as busy bright bustling shopping. Be tragic to see Stockport on the list. The yob culture attributes to a limit of decorative additions but sooner more buisnesses occupy Stockport precinct the better. I’d rather see Charity Shops than empty spaces i love them they sell brand new products made specially for each business, some people still think of them as second hand grubby clothes; how wrong they are, prices are damned expensive for some new stuff esoecially garden ornanents & i should know it takes 3 weeks of saving up. If rents were low for them its much better than big empty windows with gathering dust to be seen inside. When Co-op moves in Gatley another big eyesore looming there & Cheadle has already empty shops that need filling. As Rates & Rents have increased for housing i can onky imagine how shop owners have groaned on receiving their 2019 bills. Has to be leeway whether the Council like it ir not & stop wasting money on changes that arent vital. A posh new bus station isnt filling empty buildings. I go to a town to shop, not admire where the bus pulls in thats taken me there.

By Beryl Collins

If they were to roof over the whole of Merseyway, like the Floral Hall at Covent Garden, it would be a much more pleasant place to visit. The present wind- and rain-swept steppe is a trial.

By Tony Heyes

I have have lived in Stockport for 61 years. I am embarassed to tell people I live here. There are no nice shops left with the exception of 1 or 2. Its an absolute disgrace. I have been advised that it is going to be a residential town due to shortage of housing yet we will be expected to travel to Manchester or Handforth Dean to shop for items other than food.I appreciate that the Peel Centre is really busy all the time but what does that say about Merseyway. Its a dump and M&S empty is an eye sore. Whats the point of a new bus station and trams?? So we can shop in another town instead of our own? Maybe its so that people can get out of Stockport rather than into Stockport !!!!

By Julie Holland

if you want to get Stockport booming again free parking would help ! people are sick of having to pay money just to go and spend money ,So they do it on line for free.

By pail

Good to hear that improvements are happening and being planned further. I feel a lightweight roof, covering all the shopping centre would be greatly beneficial. There seem to be many light, yet strong solutions available today that could quickly be used to create a covered, but still bright and dry shopping environment. There are transparent, inflatable options and thin plastic roofing solutions available that should be low-impact to install, as well as being very modern to help update Merseyway.

By J Ireland

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