STALYBRIDGE’S bus station may be on the move to create a new interchange facility with the town’s railway terminus.
However, one question rages on – where exactly will it go?
Tameside Council has secured a £100,000 grant from Transport for Greater Manchester’s Intra-City Transport Fund for a study to look at the bus station’s future and consider moving it in the Stalybridge Interchange Options Study.
It is claimed moving the site to Rassbottom Street would provide ‘a growth point for new development’.
Figures claim the four stands, about 300 metres away from the train station, are served by just seven buses per hour.
But the thought of shifting the current Market Street station, which has been there since 1960, has sparked plenty of debate in the town as the investigation will go on until March.
It will include counts of the number of people boarding and alighting buses, traffic counts, pedestrian counts, surveys, a commercial market assessment and an options assessment of where to put it.
A move would reopen the possibility of extending the Metrolink service to Stalybridge – and councillors representing the town back a change.
Stalybridge North’s Councillor Adrian Pearce said: “I would certainly support the creation of a bus and train interchange and the release of the bus station for redevelopment.
“It is a core part of the strategy to regenerate Stalybridge.
“How this is done, will form part of the consultants brief no doubt.
“It is important that we encourage the use of public transport and the best way to do this is to make it easy for people to use.”
Dukinfield/Stalybridge Cllr Eleanor Wills added: “I think this an opportunity for Stalybridge.
“I know people have had lots of opinions over the years about the current station and the disconnect it has from the train station.
“I think the opportunity to link up our transport network to make it more accessible has to be a positive thing.
“We have a great mix of retail, housing and leisure within the town and this is an opportunity for us to continue that growth journey with Stalybridge and let it be the destination we Stalybridge residents already know it can be.”
However, Stalybridge South’s Cllr Doreen Dickinson suggested another site had previously been earmarked.
She said: “A plan after lots of consultation with Stalybridge people came to the conclusion that to move the bus station to the train station not on Rassbottom St but in conjunction with the development of the west end of Stalybridge, to have a multi storey car park and a true transport interchange was a good idea.
“Unless the west end and that whole area is developed it won’t work. It was never a standalone plan.
“That’s the whole problem with Stalybridge. It is all done piece meal and it doesn’t work.
“If the west end ever gets developed, then it will work and be a success for Stalybridge.”
As has been reported by The Correspondent, Stalybridge is a priority for Tameside Council through the Stalybridge Town Centre Challenge Action Plan.
If the bus station is moved, it would present a site ripe for redevelopment, with Cllr Sam Gosling pointing towards the need for more housing.
He told The Correspondent previously: “There’s not enough housing. There’s a housing crisis in this country.
“I’m not saying it will solve everything but in Stalybridge, there’s a train station right there. We could be attracting professionals using us as a town and working in Manchester.
“I don’t see why that’s not a good thing. The more people you get, the more investment you get. It’s just basic.
“The key for me is to get more people into Stalybridge. More housing brings more people and more investment into the town.”
Tameside Council left open the possibility of a Metrolink extension as it said: “As well as making it easier for bus and train travellers to swap services, the scheme will be mindful of the longer-term potential for the construction of a new interchange linked to any future Metrolink or train-tram provision in Stalybridge.
“The interchange would also fit in with plans for improved access through the town centre and broader Greater Manchester transport priorities including the clean air plan, integrated public transport and better walking and cycling routes.
“A more sustainable transport strategy would support this increase in population while at the same time enhancing the overall environment through associated improvements such as better lighting and more bins, trees and seating.”
Council leader, Cllr Brenda Warrington, said: “Different aspects of innovations in Stalybridge are starting to come together now.
“I’ve been concerned at social media and reports where we hear residents who literally talk the town down.
“It’s so unfair because there’s a tremendous amount of work going on in Stalybridge.
“Everyone is determined to bring Stalybridge into a situation to be a destination of choice and it’s starting to happen.
“Some of the entrepreneurs who’ve invested have been welcomed and we’ll continue to strive to make Stalybridge into the kind of town people expect to see.”
Cllr Warren Bray, the authority’s executive member with responsibility for transport, insisted: “These are exciting times for Stalybridge.
“The transport interchange is only one of the many projects we are considering to regenerate the town and help it to realise its full potential as a modern centre.”