Ambitious plans for Stalybridge centre regeneration revealed

MORE than £2.5million is set to be spent on ambitious plans to regenerate Stalybridge town centre.Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone has offered a £1.275m grant provided it is match funded.

And at Tameside Council’s executive cabinet it was agreed to provide the match funding with the final outcome of the bid expected at the end of March.

A sum of up to £890,000 will be ring fenced from the existing £2.5m capital investment pot for the refurbishment of capital assets while a further £385,000 of match finding has already been provisionally identified, including £130,000 from Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Evergreen Surplus fund.

More than £1m of the money will be spent to create a heritage walk between Stalybridge railway station and the town centre.

And a further £335,000 has been allocated for a shop front grant scheme to enhance the approach to the town centre, primarily along Market Street.

Repairs to the civic hall roof will cost £550,000 whole a further £75,000 has been allocated to a feasibility study for the building.

During consultation exercises about the Town Centre Challenge, 72 per cent of people said that reinventing the market hall was their top priority for the town.

The cabinet report said: “The proposed re-purposing of (part of) the civic hall, as a food hall as a potential option, is a relatively speculative proposal.

“Similar offers have been successfully developed elsewhere (such as the market hall in Altrincham, Mackie Mayor in the Northern Quarter and the Produce Hall in Stockport) and the response to events such as the artisan craft market, annual beer festival and Royal Exchange pop-up theatre suggests that there is a demand for active use of this space.”

Officers want to encourage businesses to take over vacant retail space including cafes, restaurants and nail salons, and could offer ‘pop up shop’ initiatives to allow independents to test the market before taking a permanent lease.

Officers said the proposals are currently ‘speculative’, but the popularity of events in the civic hall – including a beer festival and the Royal Exchange’s theatre pop-up – suggest there is a demand to re-use the space.They suggested to emulate the Altrincham Market model in Stalybridge Civic Hall with food and drinks but “tastefully done”.

The spark for the regenerated came about when Stalybridge became Tameside Council’s nomination two years ago for Great Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s Town Centre Challenge.

Each of Greater Manchester’s 10 authorities were asked to put forward a town.

The news has been widely welcomed.

Jayne Travers, director of growth, told the executive cabinet: “There is a potential to improve transport links, create new homes, new jobs, and bring empty or under-utilised property into use in Stalybridge which can contribute to our economic growth.”

Cllr Oliver Ryan, executive member for finance and economic growth, wrote exclusively in last month’s Correspondent about an exciting future for Stalybridge saying what happens in the next decade could define the town for the next century.

He described the news as a “massive thing” for the town adding the public consultations that took place as part of the Stalybridge Town Centre Challenge helped provide the action plan.

“I’m really happy that we’ve got to this point where we can actually deliver something that people have asked for,” said Cllr Ryan.

Cllr Leanne Feeley, cabinet member for culture and heritage, said: “It is brilliant to get this opportunity for Stalybridge.

“There has been some great work over the last year such as the Royal Exchange’s pop-up theatre which was well received.

“There will be exciting opportunities because of the investment, and I look forward to seeing more things happening in Stalybridge.”

Cllr Brenda Warrington, Tameside Council’s executive leader, said: “We nominated Stalybridge for the Mayor’s Challenge nearly two years ago.

“It has been frustrating for residents not to see much happen but there was a lot to do before anything can happen.

“Now we have reached the point when we are on the verge of physically seeing things which will benefit Stalybridge.

“We can look at the recommendations and see funding to be allocated for different needs, a feasibility study into the civic hall and match funding.

“Hopefully it demonstrates all our efforts and we are now reaping dividends.”

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