THE MAN who owns the land he hopes to see turned into a new focal point believes it could be just what Stalybridge needs.
It may also allow for the town’s war memorial to be extended, with names of fallen soldiers not yet included added.
Millson Group hopes to transform the area once occupied by the town’s clinic, on the corner of Stamford Street and Market Street, into residential and retail space.
And a key part is a Riverside Walk, dubbed War Memorial Walk.
More than 70 apartments will be put in place, including accessible ones, along with shops and the Riverside Piazza.
One block will be placed on the clinic site, with another just further along the bank, with them both being accessed by cars from Old Street.
Several people attended a consultation session at Stalybridge Civic Hall to learn more about the scheme after artists’ impressions were released and question those behind it.
And Gerard McDermott KC, who owns the site and has delivered specific instructions to Millson Group – including to keep weeping willow trees next to the water, believes the development and Riverside Walk linking to the war memorial on Trinity Street can inject further momentum to the town.
He also indicated he is willing to sit down with the Friends of Stalybridge War Memorial, who attended the consultation along with representatives of the Royal British Legion, about incorporating an extension.
He told The Correspondent: “I’m very happy with the way the plans and drawings have been received.
“I’d had other people look at the site and I like they way they worked. I hope people think it’s sympathetic and it offers something back to the town in a very positive way.
“We’ve tried to make it inclusive but this was a very real consultation to find out what people thought.
“The answer to whether the war memorial will be extended is that is their land, it’s probably Tameside Council’s land, but I’m very happy to talk to people about incorporating this in the most sympathetic way possible.
“What better way than to try and enhance the war memorial. It’s a really nice thing and they’re working on Victoria Bridge at the moment – it can be made to enhance the town.”
So far, a formal planning application has not been submitted to Tameside Council but sitting ward councillors have seen the plans.
And Mr McDermott KC hopes work can start sooner rather than later, once the application is decided upon.
He also answered people who say a walkway was formerly in place in the area, adding: “I bought this land some time ago, at which stage whatever was there was not in use.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a right of way. In any event, what I’ve tried to do is listen to the sentiments I knew were out there and show how it can be incorporated on a very positive way in a scheme like this.
“This is a site I bought and have had various thoughts about it. I was very keen to work to produce a landmark setting and we’ll take it from there.
“The first thing, though, is to get planning permission. I hope it’s well received and from my part, I hope we can move on fairly quickly.
“But we’ll make the application soon. Hopefully by the end of May.”