A FORMAL application that would see an unused site in Stalybridge developed into apartments and retail units, with a new riverside walk, is being lodged.
And those proposing to deliver the project on the former clinic site, on the corner of Stamford Street and Market Street, say they have listened to the people.
As well as an apartment block fronting Stamford Street, Millson Group wants a new Riverside Piazza as it ‘hopes to boost use of the new public realm offered to support the regeneration plans of Stalybridge.’
It may also allow for the town’s war memorial to be extended, with names of fallen soldiers not yet included added.
More than 70 apartments will be put in place, including accessible ones, and after several people attended a consultation session to learn more about the scheme after artists’ impressions were released, views have been listened to.
In a letter ahead if the plan being formally submitted to Tameside Council, Millson state key concerns it heard included worries for retail units given the amount of empty retail within Stalybridge at present because of high rent prices, meaning it needs to provide affordable rent.
It was told, among ither things, public space will encourage gatherings at night and woodland ‘play areas’ will also attract anti-social behaviour, people do not want to see loss of willow trees and they are keen on retail or bars under retail apartments.
In response, they said: “A number of comments have been made about the retail use, their occupation, high rates, residential apartments above a bar.
“For this reason, we have begun enquiries into the type of possible occupation for the units.
“We’re looking for users of these units now, at an early stage, to ensure the development will be occupied and not be limited to the principle of bars/cafes.
“We are looking at alternative uses for the spaces which would result in day occupation and not night-time.
“However, the interest in occupation is very widespread at present, for that reason we cannot rule out any potential occupants but will cater to the demands of interest.
“We hope this assures residents of Stalybridge that these comments have been taken on board and we are keen to ensure the spaces are occupied by users suited to Stalybridge at reasonable rates.”
Millson also revealed as a result of the responses, alterations have been made from the original drawings, notably in the ‘River Glade’ area – a new artist’s impression of which was produced.
It adds: “Key concerns were loss of trees, effect on ecology, creation of anti-social gathering space, appropriate landscaping.
“We have redesigned the area of the river glade, working with our tree and ecology specialists to ensure this area is sensitively designed. We have redesigned the car park area – rearranging spaces to ensure more prominent trees can be retained and more naturally planted areas can be introduced.
“We have amended the materiality of the car park, to ensure a root protection surface is used to prevent any harm to retained trees. We have increased the number of retained trees, meaning only one willow tree will be lost through the development and we have proposed planting of 17 new trees.
“Stone walls and stone gabions have been chosen to compliment the surroundings of Stalybridge – design has been kept simple and in keeping following feedback of landscape items which have now been removed.
“15 per cent of apartments will be affordable at a minimum. We would like a number of apartments to be available for spinal injury patients, however we have made the decision to allow the application time to source and establish resultant end users and potential development partners.
“We are keen to ensure any choices made on tenure, affordability, tenure for young people or older people, are suitable to the town of Stalybridge. We are keen to commit this development to setting an example for the future developments of Stalybridge.”
At the consultation event, Gerard McDermott KC, who owns the site and has delivered specific instructions to Millson Group – said he 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 know it’s an important site for Stalybridge. I want to do things properly. I hope people think it’s sympathetic and it offers something back to the town in a very positive way.
“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.”